U.S. long jumper Jeff Henderson clinched the 2016 Olympic gold medal in long jump with a leap of 8.38 meters on his final attempt.
Saturday in Doha, Qatar, he did better than that, jumping 8.39 meters at the IAAF World Championships.
This time, however, the distance was not quite far enough. Tajay Gayle of Jamaica won the competition with a mark of 8.69 meters, the world’s longest jump this year, while Henderson took second.
Juan Miguel Echevarria of Cuba, the leader in qualifying, was third with a jump of 8.34.
Henderson was one of two Americans to make the final. Steffin McCarter also qualified with a jump of 8.04 meters, but he scratched on all three of his attempts in the final.
Henderson’s medal was his first in three attempts at the world championships, and it marked a big improvement from his last appearance in 2017, when he finished 17th.
Gayle set the high mark with his first jump of 8.46 meters, and then extended it to 8.69 on his fourth attempt. Henderson, who was one of two finalists to avoid scratching, had his best jump on his third attempt. The Arkansas native saluted the crowd just before he went after Gayle’s distance on his sixth and final attempt. But he fell short at 8.17 meters, and saluted the crowd again.
Similar to the Rio Games, Henderson made the world final in virtually the same dramatic way.
Henderson topped his qualifying group on Friday, leaping 8.12 meters on his third and final attempt. Until his final attempt, Henderson had not qualified for the final. His third jump left him as the second overall leader in qualifying.
A three-time national champion, Henderson’s previous best jump this season came at his first outdoor meet, when he leaped 8.38 meters in the Robison Invitational in April in Provo, Utah.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.