For a time in Portland yesterday, the statisticians were leafing through the annals to check Britain’s worst showing at the World Indoor Athletis Championships. But on a night when the sprinter James Dasaolu once again crumbled under pressure, Lorraine Ugen and Tiffany Porter earned two late bronze medals for the British team.
Ugen had been so bad when she first took up the long jump she described herself as “a dangly spider”, but, with her penultimate jump of the night she managed a personal best and British indoor record of 6.93 metres to take third spot and a first global medal. The event was won by the American Brittney Reese, whose astonishing last-round jump of 7.22m decided a topsy-turvy contest with Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic, who finished second.
“I am ecstatic,” said Ugen afterwards. “I’ve been trying to get on the podium since the outdoors so it was fantastic to finally do it, and not only do it but get a national record and a personal best .”
It left her still tantalisingly shy of the seven-metre mark – the benchmark of the very best jumpers – but that has become the target between now and this year’s Olympics in Rio.
“It just gives me a lot of confidence going into Rio knowing that I’ve done it at the World Indoors and knowing I can get on the podium,” she said.
While Ugen was too shocked to work out how to celebrate, Porter marked her 60m hurdles medal with a burger and glass of wine with her husband, the American hurdler Jeff Porter.
Porter was born in the US but has held dual American and British nationality since birth, as her mother, Lalana, is British. Like Ugen, she relocated to Texas, where she now resides.
“I’m so happy to come away with a medal,” said Porter after doubling Britain’s medal count. “I had a dreadful preliminary and just didn’t want to do that again. It’s mentally another way to get over the disappointment of Beijing [last year’s World Indoor Championships, where she finished outside the medals in fifth, having won silver and bronze in previous years].”
There was no celebration for Dasaolu, who had come to Portland hoping to make amends for a poor season in 2015 but failed to make the 60m final after being disqualified for a false start.
It was the first time a British man has failed to win a World Indoors medal in the event since 1997, and Dasaolu said: “Words can’t describe how disappointed I am.
“I could have gone at least sub-6.50sec, as I knew training-wise I’m within [reach of] my personal best of 6.47. No medal is guaranteed until you get to the final, but obviously I was one of the contenders up there.”
Maurice Greene’s world record of 6.39 had looked in danger when Asafa Powell ran 6.44 in both the heats and semi-finals, but once again the Jamaican’s form deserted him in the final and he finished second behind the American Trayvon Bromell.
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