Australian long jumper Mitchell Watt sets new national record
Queenslander Mitchell Watt has broken Jai Taurima’s long-standing national long jump record with a monster winning leap of 8.54m at the Stockholm Diamond League meeting.
The record came in the second round with a 1.7m tail wind and launched Watt beyond the mark that captured a nation when Taurima jumped 8.49m to win silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
“There’s been a lot of talk about Jai’s national record and I always thought it would be a weird feeling if I broke it because I remember watching it when I was 12 years old and thinking how far it was. To finally break it is pretty special,” Watt said.
The Australian champion was having his first competition in four weeks after a bruised heel suffered at a competition in Germany sidelined him from training.
A first-round leap of 8.34m had the 23 year-old’s confidence soaring as he led a field that included 2007 world champion Irvine Saladino from Panama.
“I knew that if my heel didn’t hurt I was going to jump big – 8.34m in round one was my biggest ever opening jump and it was just on the back of the board,” he said.
“So I knew that if I got a good wind and was good on the board it was going to be pretty big. I’m pretty happy with that.”
Watt paid tribute to his coach Gary Bourne, who also guided the early career of Taurima.
“Gary, of all people, knew a jump like that was coming,” he said.
“He used to talk about (jumping) 8.50m a year or two ago and I used to think he was joking. The guy’s a legend.”
Watt passed his third attempt before a leap of 7.96m in the fourth round and two passes closed out the historic night.
Only 13 jumpers in history have ever reached the mark, which was also an Oceania record.
Morocco’s Yahya Berrabah jumped a wind-assisted 8.40m to place second while Saladino improved to 8.19m to place third.
It was a great night all-round for Australian jumpers with AIS athete Robbie Crowther launching a personal-best 8.12m to finish fourth.
Watt, a surprise bronze medallist at the world championships in Berlin two years ago, now heads to Daegu as favourite to win the world championship after achieving the three longest leaps in the world this year.
Long jump results from Diamond League meeting in Stockholm:
1. Mitchell Watt (AUS) 8.54m
2. Yahya Berrabah (MAR) 8.40
3. Irving Saladino (PAN) 8.19
4. Robert Crowther (AUS) 8.12
5. Ignisious Gaisah (GHA) 7.99
6. Will Claye (USA) 7.98
7. Morten Jensen (DEN) 7.98
8. Tyrone Smith (BER) 7.92
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