Amber Valley Athletic Club’s Niamh Emerson has been crowned World Junior U20 Champion in Heptathlon after a superb display in Tampere, Finland.
Nineteen-year-old Emerson, who earlier this year won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, won the final event at the IAAF World Junior U20 Championships, the 800m, in a PB of 2.09.74 to see off the challenge of Austria’s Sarah Lagger, who was the defending champion.
Her score of 6,253 points, also a PB, kept her at the top of the U20 rankings in the world.
She told Athletics Weekly: “I’m so happy with that!
“I was nervous but I was so confident in what I needed to do and I pretty much did it.
“Normally I get so nervous and stressed but today I knew what I was doing.
“Words can’t describe how happy I am with a PB and that title.
“I never decide what I’m doing in the 800m until it’s actually there because it changes everything.
“I knew the Polish girl was going to do the first lap in 62 seconds so I had to stay behind her and I had a race plan from that and it happened exactly to plan. You’re normally on plan D but I didn’t need it.”
The competition had come down to a dramatic conclusion, with just two points separating Emerson and Lagger ahead of the final event – the 800m.
As the last heat got under way, heavy rain began to pour but Emerson powered away over the final 200m to take almost a second off her previous best time.
Emerson had started off the competition with a 13.76 (+0.5) sprint hurdles PB before equalling her high jump PB with 1.89m, throwing 12.27m in the shot and running a 24.80 200m to lead overnight ahead of Adriana Rodriguez of Cuba, with Lagger a close third.
She began day two with a leap of 6.31m (+2.6) after a first-round foul and 5.96m from her second attempt, before throwing a best of 39.02m in the javelin and then finally going second-quickest overall with her 800m PB behind Agathe Guillemot of France’s championship heptathlon best of 2:09.37.
Emerson’s Amber Valley & Erewash club-mate Alex Knibbs ran in the 400m hurdles semi-finals but came third in his heat in 50.99 seconds, just missing out on a place in the final.