Doubling Up, Part 2
In part one, I began to list some successful doubles at international championships by sprinters and field event athletes. In part two, I continue the list.
Field Event Doubles
In the field events the most typical double is a jumper doing the long jump and triple jump or a thrower doing the shot put and discus.
Mike Conley, 1983 World Championships – long jump, triple jump
Mike Conley’s best event was definitely the triple jump. He was the Olympic Champion in 1992 and the World Champion in 1993. He also medaled in the triple jump at the 1984 Olympics and the 1987 and 1991 World Championships. But his best double came at his first international championship meet, the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki. In his specialty, the triple jump, he came in fourth (56’2.25”) and in the long jump he earned the bronze (26’7.5”), his only long jump medal at an international championship. He won this medal because he had a better second best jump than Laszlo Szalma of Hungary, who also had a best jump of 26’7.5”. Conley’s son, Mike Conley Jr. is a professional basketball player for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Tatyana Lebedeva (Russia), 2007 World Championships – long jump, triple jump
Tatyana Lebedeva, like Conley, was known as a better triple jumper than long jumper. She was the 2001 and 2003 World Champion in the triple jump and came into the 2007 World Championships in Osaka as the favorite in the triple jump. However Cuba’s Yargelis Savigne opened the first round of the triple jump competition with the sixth best jump of all-time and Lebedeva had to settle for the silver medal. In the long jump, Russian athletes swept the medals, with Lebedeva this time pulling off the upset by beating her countrywoman Lyudmila Kolchanova by five inches with a jump of 23’0.75”. It wasn’t the medal combination she probably expected but it was a gold and a silver for Lebedeva nonetheless.
John Godina, 1997 World Championships – shot put, discus
John Godina competed in both the shot put and discus at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics and the 1997 World Championships. In 1996, he was the first USA athlete to qualify for the Olympics in both the shot put and discus since Bud Houser in 1924. His best overall year in terms of Track & Field News world ranking was 1998 when he finished the year ranked number one in the shot put and number three in the discus. The 1997 World Championships in Athens was Godina’s best championship meet. He won the shot put (70’4.25”) and took fifth in the discus (214’7”). Godina founded the John Godina World Throws Center where he helps provide training for throwers.
Versatile female track & field athletes
Jackie Joyner-Keresee, 1988 Olympics – heptathlon, long jump
In the mid-late 1980’s and into the early 1990’s, the dominant female track and field athlete was Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Her event specialty was the seven event heptathlon but she was also a world class long jumper. At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, she set a still standing world record in the heptathlon (7291 points) and won the long jump (24’3.25”, Olympic record). This was her most dominant performance but not the only time she won the heptathlon/long jump double (really a total of eight events). She won double gold medals at the 1987 World Championships and 1992 Olympics. Her personal gold medal count also includes a gold medal in the long jump at the 1991 World Championships and a gold medal in the heptathlon at the 1993 World Championships.
Heike Drechsler (East Germany), 1988 Olympics – 100, 200, long jump
Often doing battle with Joyner-Keresee in the late-80’s and early-90’s was Heike Drechsler of East Germany. The two athletes struck up a friendship despite their differing backgrounds. Between 1983 and 1993, there were seven international championship meets and either Drechsler (1983, 1992, 1993) or Joyner-Kersee (1987, 1988, 1991) won the long jump six times. In 1985-1986, Drechsler set the then world records in the 200 meters and the long jump. Drechsler’s best meet was actually a triple at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. She won silver in the long jump (23’8.25”, five inches behind her rival and friend, Joyner-Kersee) and bronze in the 100 meters (10.85) and 200 meters (21.95).
Eunice Barber (France), 2003 World Championships – long jump, heptathlon
At the 2003 World Championships in Paris, Eunice Barber of France (by way of Sierra Leone) took advantage of home country support to compete in the Joyner-Kersee-esque heptathlon/long jump double. In the heptathlon Barber would place second (6755 points) to Carolina Kluft of Sweden, who was winning the first of three straight heptathlon world championships. In the long jump, it came down to the last jump of the competition. Barber was tied with Russia’s Tatyana Kotova but behind on countback. She would need to improve on her last jump to win gold. Barber came through in the clutch, soaring to 22’11” to win France’s first gold medal of the meet.
Gail Devers, 1993 World Championships – 100, 100 hurdles, 4X100 meter relay
The 100 meters and 100 hurdles, although the same distance on the track, are very different events requiring different skills. The 100 takes raw speed. The 100 hurdles takes technique. That’s why you seldom see an athlete reach the elite level in both events. One exception is Gail Devers. In the early 1990’s Devers suffered through the worst of her Graves’ disease, a potentially fatal hyperthyroid condition that nearly caused her to have her feet amputated. At the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart, Devers won the 100 meters over Merlene Ottey of Jamaica by one-thousandth of a second (11.811 to 11.812). Five days later, Devers would complete the double, winning the 100 hurdles in 12.46 (American record). Devers would add a silver medal in the 4X100 meter relay. In the relay her lean at the finish line was not good enough for the win as Russia edged the USA with a clocking of 41.49. This 100/100 hurdle double for Devers was sandwiched between two near misses in the same event combination at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. In 1992, having already won the 100 meters, she was leading the 100 hurdles when she hit the last hurdle, which caused her to stumble and finish in fifth place. In 1996, also having already won the 100 meters, she could only manage fourth place in her specialty, the 100 hurdles.
To be continued…