Triple jump star Yulimar Rojas at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22 (© Getty Images)
Yulimar Rojas was already on the brink of creating even more history, set to become the first athlete to win three world indoor triple jump titles. But that wasn’t enough for the Venezuelan jumps superstar. With the final leap of the competition on Sunday (20), she soared to a sensational outright world record of 15.74m*.
Some of her previous attempts at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22 had been close to the board, but this one was different. It was clearly a legal leap as she moved from her hop and into her step and jump, landing in the sand further than she ever has before, indoors or out.
Springing back up, she started to celebrate. And then it was confirmed - 15.74m to improve her own world record of 15.67m that she achieved to win the Olympic title in Tokyo. Her previous indoor best had been the 15.43m she recorded in Madrid in February 2020.
"I achieved my third indoor title here, crowned with the world record. I cannot be more thankful," said Rojas, who earned a $50,000 world record bonus. "Coming here, I knew it was the right time to achieve this and I took the chance.
"Looking back to 2018, I am the same person but I improved a lot technically and also got the mental strength. Now, I want to focus on the World Athletics Championships in Oregon and I think there is a big chance of making a double, in the long jump and triple jump. If I am in shape and the conditions are good, I can do both.
"The 16-metre mark is my big goal. Every day, I am trying to add one more centimetre to get closer to it."
The 26-year-old had set a safe looking 15.19m in the first round in Belgrade and then fouled in the second. In the third she was beyond 15 metres again, but such is her standard that after the attempt she stayed sitting in the sand, clearly frustrated to not have gone further.
She had another big jump in round four – landing at a mark that looked near her own world lead of 15.41m – but that was judged a foul.
The next was not. Soaring through the air, she landed and leapt straight back up, watching the scoreboard in anticipation. First came the green light and then the distance – 15.36m to match the championship record set in 2004 and miss her own world indoor record by just 7cm.
She wasn’t done. Taking to the runway one last time, she engaged the crowd and was roared to her fifth consecutive global gold medal, winning by exactly a metre. She adds it to her world indoor wins in 2016 and 2018, the two world outdoor titles she claimed in 2017 and 2019, and her Olympic triumph last year.
Ukraine’s world long jump silver medallist Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk also had the triple jump competition of her life, leaping 14.74m in the final round to move from eighth place to second. It was just her second triple jump competition since 2013 and she is also due to line up in the long jump final on Sunday afternoon.
"It was my first triple jump competition at international level and I was so lucky to be part of a world record event and to win the silver for my country," she said. "I devote this medal to all Ukrainian people, to the Ukrainian armed forces that defend our country.
"I don't know if will continue with triple jump, but I really enjoyed it today. Anything is possible. Now I need a little rest before the long jump."
The bronze was claimed by Jamaica’s two-time Commonwealth champion Kimberly Williams, who jumped an indoor PB of 14.62m to add another world indoor medal to the silver she secured in Birmingham in 2018 and the bronze claimed in Sopot in 2014.
In a competition of impressive depth, it is just the second time in any indoor competition that 10 women have jumped beyond 14 metres.
Jess Whittington for World Athletics
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure
|WOMEN'S TRIPLE JUMP MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Yulimar Rojas 🇻🇪 VEN||15.74m WR|
|🥈||Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk 🇺🇦 UKR||14.74m PB|
|🥉||Kimberly Williams 🇯🇲 JAM||14.62m PB|