Gold medal in high jump
A great achievement by the Greek athlete Antonis Merlos and his amazing appearance at the World Youth Championship, which was held in Tampere, and gave him the gold medal in the high jump, making a two-time personal record of 2.21m. and 2.23m.
The young jumper, despite the fact that during the year he encountered lots of problems, he succeeded in all his attempts and got qualified for the finals. The Greek champion had an individual record of 2.20m from last year but this year he had a 2.16m.
The athlete started his race at 2.07m with a valid jump, surpassed the second with 2.12m and with the next 2.16m, 2.19m, 2.21m and 2.23m he beat his personal record.
With a jump of 2.23m, the best of his career, the champion reached the same height as the Mexican athlete, Roberto Vilches, but the two jumpers agreed not to play a barrage, but instead to climb together on the podium of the winners. The bronze medal was shared as well between JuVaughn Blake (USA) and Breyton Poole (South Africa) for the 2.23 meters.
The 19-year-old, who was born on April 4, 1999, and is majoring in Management, traveled to the United States to study at the university in Georgia in the past winter, and, despite the difficulties of adapting to the new environment and the injury he had suffered last year, he managed to find his way and reached the first place at the podium at a top event of his category.
Shortly after the gold medal, Merlo said, “I’m on cloud nine, I’m really happy. I can’t stop thinking that i’m in a dream and my roommate (Mr. Andreas Pantazis) will wake up and start shouting – wake up, you have a competition to attend!”. It was really unique what happened today. The people on the platforms shouted my name which encouraged me. I was clearly the underdog. I told some members of our team that I would get a medal and they laughed. It is true that during the race I was anxious. I relaxed after 2.19 meters, where I had secured a place in the first six places and that was something that pleased me. When I passed the 2.19m, I felt good, after 2.21m I believed that I could do even more than 2.23 m.”
Regarding the fact that the gold medal was shared by two athletes, he commented, “We did not even think about it. We immediately agreed to stop there. There was a podium with two athletes in the third place and two at the first as well”, while on how he managed to “save” a very difficult for him year and in a festive way, he said “The truth is, I learned a lot of things on my stay in the USA. Beyond that, I think I have faith, will, and a vividly “crazy” spirit, which all have helped me carry on and try for the best.”
Greece won the second medal in the tournament and the twelfth overall. This gold medal was the first in ten years for Greece, after the victory of Pericles Iakovakis in Ansi.