Eleanor Patterson has become just the 10th Australian athlete to win world championships gold with a thrilling triumph in the women’s high jump in Eugene.
The 26-year-old surged to the lead on a steamy hot afternoon with a first-up clearance at 2.02m – bettering her PB by 2cm and equalling the national record in the process.
Ukrainian Yarolsava Mahuchikh was the only other jumper to get over at 2.02m, but she needed two attempts to achieve the feat. Mahuchikh and Patterson then each missed three times at 2.04m, ensuring Patterson would win the gold on countback.
Patterson became the first Australian woman to win a world or Olympics high jump title, while John Winter (1948 London Olympics) is the only Australian man to achieve the feat.
Patterson first burst to prominence when she won the Commonwealth title as a shy 18-year-old in Glasgow in 2014. She endured some ups and downs in the intervening years before making the career-changing decision to link up with coach Alex Stewart.
Fellow Australian Nicola Olyslagers, the Tokyo Olympics silver medallist, finished tied for fifth with a best clearance of 1.96m.
The competition was thrown wide open by the enforced absence of three-time world champion and Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Mariya Lasitskene. All Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from competing in Eugene due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Stewart McSweyn gave himself every chance by going out hard in the men’s 1500m final. But he was unable to go with the leaders in the final lap of a race which was won by Britain’s Jake Wightman in three minutes 29.23 seconds – the fastest time in the world this year.
Norway’s Olympic champ Jakob Ingebrigtsen was second in 3:29.47 and McSweyn finished ninth in 3:33.24.
Australia’s Matthew Denny was sixth in a high-quality men’s discus final, with his best effort of 66.47m coming in the final round. But no-one could get near Slovenia’s Kristjan Ceh won claimed gold with a massive throw of 71.13m.
Teenager Calab Law (20.72) bowed out as expected in the men’s 200m semis and will now turn his attention to the world juniors in Colombia. Jacinta Beecher was also run out in the women’s 200m semis in 23.14.
Sarah Carli was untroubled in advancing to the 400m hurdles semi-finals by finishing fifth in her heat in 55.89. As expected, world record holder Sydney McLaughlin from the US topped the timesheets with 53.95.