Yulimar Rojas celebrates in the women's triple jump at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (© Getty Images)
It started with an Olympic record and ended with a world record.
Yulimar Rojas made history in the women’s triple jump final at the Tokyo Olympic Games, sailing out to a world record of 15.67m* to land Venezuela’s first Olympic gold medal in athletics.
Rojas, jumping second in the starting order, bounded out to 15.41m with her opening leap to add two centimetres to the Olympic record set 13 years ago by Francoise Mbango Etone.
It was an all-round strong start to the competition from most of the finalists as Patricia Mamona set a Portuguese record of 14.91m and Cuba’s Liadagmis Povea jumped 14.70m. Three more women – Spain’s Ana Peleteiro, Israel’s Hanna Minenko and USA’s Keturah Orji – opened with jumps beyond 14.50m.
Rojas struggled to match her opening leap with her next two attempts, jumping 14.53m in round two and producing a foul – albeit a long one – in round three.
By the half-way point, Peleteiro had moved into third place with 14.77m and Minenko had gone into sixth with 14.60m. World silver medallist Shanieka Ricketts recorded fouls with her first two jumps and faced a potential early exit from the competition, but a third-round leap of 14.47m kept the Jamaican’s medal hopes alive.
Having found her rhythm, Ricketts sailed out to 14.84m at the start of the fourth round to briefly move into third place. Mamona, meanwhile, became the newest member of the event’s 15-metre club, leaping 15.01m for another Portuguese record and consolidating her second-place position.
Minutes later, Rojas closed out the round by landing beyond 15 metres again, leaping 15.25m (0.1m/s).
Having been bumped out of the medals in the previous round, Peleteiro responded with a Spanish record of 14.87m (0.5m/s) in round five to move back into third.
By the time Rojas lined up for her final effort, and having recorded another foul in round five, her victory was guaranteed. With the pressure off and nothing to lose, Rojas nailed her final effort and broke the sand at 15.67m, adding 17 centimetres to the previous world record that had been set at the 1995 World Championships by Ukraine’s Inessa Kravets.
“I am lost for words; I can’t describe this feeling and this moment,” said Rojas, whose phases on her record-breaking jump were 5.86m, 3.82m and 5.99m. “Gold medal winner, with an Olympic record, and a world record ... Wow. It is a fantastic night.
“I was looking for it (the world record), I knew we had that distance in my legs today,” she added. “I was failing a bit in the technical aspect, but the last jump was one to give everything, and it was like that.
“I was focused on giving my best, enjoying myself, and it came out. It makes me happy. I have to enjoy it now, and live the experience.”
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics
|WOMEN'S TRIPLE JUMP MEDALLISTS
|Yulimar Rojas 🇻🇪 VEN
|Patricia Mamona 🇵🇹 POR
|Ana Peleteiro 🇪🇸 ESP
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure