As the World Athletics Awards 2023 draws near, we’re shining a spotlight on the 10 finalists – five men and five women – for the World Athlete of the Year awards.
Today the focus is on Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas.
Yulimar Rojas continued her reign as the queen of the triple jump in 2023. It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Venezuelan superstar, but she further proved her class by overcoming a setback on the biggest stage of the year to win her fourth successive world title.
Rojas made her season debut in June, winning in Madrid and then again at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Oslo.
She got gold at the Central American Games in San Salvador, soaring beyond 15 metres for the first time of the year with 15.16m. That was a world lead that she improved to 15.18m when winning at her next competition, the Diamond League meeting in Silesia.
She switched to the long jump in Monaco, leaping 6.61m in the Diamond League event there, and then turned her attention back to the triple jump and the prospect of winning a record fourth world outdoor title in Budapest.
After cruising through qualification, Rojas returned to the runway for the final on 25 August.
The Olympic champion had improved her world record to 15.74m when winning her third world indoor title in Belgrade last year, while her outdoor best is the 15.67m she soared to secure gold at the Games in Tokyo. In Budapest, however, Rojas struggled to find her rhythm and was sitting in eighth place going into the final round.
Her competition to that point had featured three fouls and marks of 14.33m and 14.26m from the second and third rounds, respectively.
But Rojas wasn’t defeated.
Taking to the runway for the final time, she engaged the crowd once more and then hopped, stepped and jumped 15.08m – a performance that put her into the lead by eight centimetres.
The emotion was clear.
“The fact that I won the competition with my last attempt makes it very special and memorable,” she said. “This is my seventh world championship gold in a row (outdoors and indoors), but this is the most special of all of them.
“My last attempt was proof of the hard work I have done, my mental state and my self-confidence. I didn't care about the distance, the only thing I had in mind was to win the gold.”
With an eighth global gold medal added to her collection, Rojas returned to the Diamond League circuit and jumped 15.15m to win in Zurich.
She then headed to Eugene to defend her Diamond League title and, saving her best for last, she improved her world lead to 15.35m – just 39cm off her own world record – to take the trophy for the third consecutive year.
Rojas has now taken her tally of 15-metre-plus performances to 49 and remained unbeaten in finals in her specialism for the second year in a row.
• The World Athletes of the Year will be announced on World Athletics’ social media platforms on 11 December as part of the World Athletics Awards 2023 – and you and a friend can be part of the celebrations.
One lucky person and a companion will win a once-in-a-lifetime VIP trip to Monaco during the annual World Athletics Awards.
The winners of the fan VIP trip will get to spend three nights (9-11 December) in Monaco and meet the best athletes of 2023 in person. Flights, accommodation and evening meals will all be included.