STUTTGART, GERMANY -- Texas A&M school record holder Fabrice Lapierre claimed an impressive victory in the long jump during the IAAF World Athletics Final on Sunday. With a leap of 26-8.5 (8.14), the former student topped an international field and claimed a $30,000 prize for his victory.
The two-day championship meet, which culminated the Grand Prix season, offered a total purse of $3 million with payments ranging from $30,000 for first place to $2,000 for eighth place in each event contested.
In a career already sporting some big achievements, Lapierre notched his biggest victory to date. The former World Junior silver medalist in 2002 also won a NCAA title in 2005 while at Texas A&M. International honors have included a Commonwealth Games bronze medal for his native Australia in 2006 along with placing eighth for Oceania at the World Cup in the same season.
Field event competition at the World Athletics Final was limited to four attempts. A foul in the opening round by Lapierre was followed by a 26-0 (7.92) effort that placed him third. Holding fourth place at the start of the third round Lapierre hit his big mark to vault into first place.
Saudi Arabia’s Hussein Al-Sabee, who came into the meet with Golden League titles from Berlin, Oslo and Zurich, challenged Lapierre with a mark of 26-8.25 (8.13) in the same third round. In the fourth round Al-Sabee reached a distance of 26-5.5 (8.06).
The winning mark for Lapierre matched his season best effort, which he achieved five days before in winning the long jump in Zagreb, Croatia.
An injury to his groin during the Australian Championships last March limited Lapierre’s activity until July. An appeal placed him on the Australian Olympic team, where he missed advancing to the final by just under two inches.
“I didn’t get into many meetings prior to the Games,” Lapierre said. “I could have surprised everyone at the Olympic Games because no one really knew me, it’s a shame. So I surprised everyone by winning the World Athletics Final.”
Europe has been a launching pad for big marks from Lapierre. In 2006 he established a personal best and the Aggie school record of 26-10.5 (8.19) in Nuoro, Italy. In the past week he reached 26-8.5 twice in Croatia and Germany. Another major meet setting, the 2009 World Championships, will be held in Berlin, Germany next August.