Athletics-Diaz soars to European gold with third best triple jump of all time

Athletics - European Athletics Championships - Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy - June 11, 2024 Spain's Jordan Alejandro Diaz Fortun celebrates after winning the men's triple jump final REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

ROME (Reuters) - Spain's Jordan Diaz leaped a massive 18.18 metres, the third best jump of all time, in a triple jump thriller at the European Championships in Rome on Tuesday, also breaking a 26-year-old championship record to take the gold medal.

Diaz had set a new personal best with a jump of 17.96 on his fourth attempt of six, but was still in second place after Portugal's Pedro Pichardo had already broken Jonathan Edwards' championship record of 17.99, set in 1998, with a leap of 18.04.

Pichardo, Olympic and European champion, was the only competitor to have previously gone past 18 metres, with a personal best of 18.08, but the 30-year-old soon found himself overtaken and dethroned by his fellow Cuban-born rival.

The reigning champion skipped his fourth attempt, but was forced into action again by the performance of Diaz. Pichardo hit 17.92 on his final attempt, and had to be content with silver, while France's Thomas Gogois took bronze with 17.38.

Back in 2015, Pichardo was involved in what was called "the greatest triple jump competition ever" when both he and Christian Taylor jumped over 18 metres in Doha. That time, Pichardo came out on top, but he was no match for Diaz in Rome.

American Taylor went even better a few months later when he came closest to beating Edwards' world record with a jump of 18.21, eight centimetres short of the Briton's record which has stood since 1995.

Diaz now moves third in the all-time list, ahead of Will Claye of America, and the 23-year-old will now aim for the Olympics in Paris, going there as European champion having missed Tokyo after he defected from Cuba.

Previously Diaz had said he wanted to break the 18-metre mark where it counted, at the Olympics, but after easily eclipsing it in Rome, that long-standing world record could be next.

(Reporting by Trevor Stynes; Editing by Toby Davis)

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