Dani Samuels goes close in discus, while Anneliese Rubie knocked out of 400m in semi-finals
Fabrice Lapierre had a pain his backside. His hamstrings were pulling apart like tired cloth threatening to give way at any moment and he was in screaming pain.
Somehow he blocked it out and just focused on running and jumping. Somehow he managed to get a jump on the board and stay in the mix. Somehow he jumped to a silver medal.
It was a medal Australia doubted would come at this World Championships so it was perhaps unsurprising it came against such difficult odds.
“In the warm up my hamstring and my glutes weren’t great and I thought, ‘Here we go again, not another final where I hurt my hamstring’. And it was hurt, I was in agonising pain,” he said.
“My first jump was not great and then a couple of the guys were struggling on the runway and I thought, ‘If I can get one jump, just one jump and make top eight’ [then anything could happen].
“Then I got 8.10 in my third round and a couple of the guys got knocked out and I thought, ‘You are here once if you are in pain just got for it, you can’t think about the pain you have got to go for it’.
“My mentality changed. My adrenalin kicked in and it took the pain away as much as it could. I was just running on pure adrenalin.”
The turning point came with that next fourth attempt when he did not jump at all. He surprised himself by getting down the runway so fast he had no time to jump and had to run through the sandpit. Then he knew he could do it, he could overcome the pain and really do something.
That moment when he did not jump at all was ironically the moment he knew he could jump. It was the moment that won him a silver medal.
“Once I did that foul [coach Dan Pfaff] said, ‘That is the best run you have done all day and you were two feet in front of your check mark’, which is like 9 metres out in front, which means I was moving, I was running fast.
“So that gave me confidence. I realised, hey you can run, it is not all the way torn yet, hold out.”
The next jump he leapt 8.20m and into second place. His next jump he went 4 centimetres further and safeguarded his silver medal.
“It is just a big relief more than anything,” said Lapierre, who won gold at the World Indoors Championships in 2010 and has now won silver in Beijing outdoors.
“I was always secretly thinking I may get a medal, maybe even gold. I came here and got my goal — I proved to myself I am back in the shape I was in [in 2010].”
Lapierre moved to Pfaff last year and credits it with helping turn him into the silver medallist. Coincidentally it was his training partner with Pfaff, Briton Greg Rutherford the London gold medallist, who won the gold in Beijing with a jump of 8.41m.
Ironically, the set back, the pain in his hamstrings, the crowd, trailing the field — all conspired to help drive him. Lapierre admits he needs to be pushed.
“It might sound bad but I don’t always feel like jumping. I need to get motivated. If I am motivated on a day I can jump more. I thrive off coming from behind. I like the pressure,” he said.
Lapierre continued Australia’s silver history in the long jump. Australia has now won two long jump silvers at the World Championships after Mitch Watt won silver in Daegu in 2012. Four Australians have also won Olympic silver long jump medals — Watt in 2012, Jai Taurema in 2000, Gary Honey in 1984 and Theo Bruce in 1948.
It is a history Lapierre thinks he can change next year at the Rio Olympics.
“If I can be 100 per cent next year hopefully I can go one better,” he said.