Yulimar Rojas wins triple jump to claim Venezuela’s 1st IAAF World Championships title
Yulimar Rojas’ win came one day after the South American country won their first medal of any colour when Robeilys Peinado took bronze in women’s pole vault.Updated: Aug 08, 2017 10:59 IST
Yulimar Rojas claimed Venezuela’s first-ever World Athletics Championships title when she won the women’s triple jump by two centimetres from great rival Caterine Ibarguen in a see-saw battle on Monday.
The 21-year-old’s win came one day after the South American country won their first medal of any colour when Robeilys Peinado took the bronze in the women’s pole vault.
“What great pride to see the victory of our Yulimar Rojas, a glorious athlete of the golden generation,” tweeted Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, whose country is embroiled in an economic and constitutional crisis.
Colombian Ibarguen, who has dominated the event over the last few years and won gold in Rio de Janeiro last year ahead of Rojas, was denied a third successive world title.
Ibarguen was leading with 14.89 metres until the fifth round when Rojas produced a leap of 14.91, the fourth time the lead had changed hands.
Rojas, who is coached by retired Cuban long jump Olympic champion of 2000 Ivan Pedroso and trains in Spain, celebrated her win effusively, jumping up and down and flapping her arms before going off to hug members of her family.
“It was a really tough battle but I’m an athlete who never gives up,” said Rojas. “This is a great victory for my country. I am sure they will be celebrating and having a party. Thanks for everything, to my friends, family, my coach and Venezuela.”
However, she added she was saddened by the situation in her home country where some 120 people have been killed during four months of sustained anti-government protests and Maduro has faced global pressure to dismantle a newly created pro-government constituent assembly which has been condemned as a power grab.
“I’m sad about what is happened in my country, which is a wonderful country... I know that one day we will put a stop to this all this, all this fighting and this war between brothers,”
Rojas said. “I hope I’ve made my country proud.”
Venezuela’s socialist government invested heavily in sport under late President Hugo Chavez but many athletes complain that state funding has dried up under the country’s brutal economic crisis.
Ibarguen, 33, had dominated the sport since taking Olympic silver at the London Stadium in 2012, at one point enjoying a 34-meeting winning streak that lasted until early June 2016.
But Rojas has made her life much tougher since bursting onto the scene. “I will keep working hard. I am satisfied with my performance,” Ibarguen said.
Wlodarczyk hammers field to take third world title
Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk destroyed the opposition to win a third hammer throw world title despite suffering from a broken finger and cramps at the World Championships on Monday.
The 31-year-old had been the one to beat going into the competition. With two Olympic titles to her name, the world record holder has not been beaten since early 2014.
After a slow start, she took the lead on her fourth throw at the London Stadium, with a 77.39 metres effort, and wrapped up the gold with 77.90.
After the event Wlodarczyk revealed that she had broken her finger in training, proving her credentials even more as one of the greatest hammer competitors ever.
“This was not the performance I expected tonight but come on, I am the world champion and that is the most important thing now... I expected to throw 80 metres or even a world record attack. But now I am happy for gold,” she said.
“There were a couple of serious technical problems in the final. First of all, I injured my finger during the first training session in London and it was quite painful.
“And I started to have cramps tonight. So it was not easy and I am very angry about myself.”
Wlodarczyk had numerous supporters draped in Polish flags watching from the stands. But she also had support of a different kind, as she was throwing with the hammer glove used by her mentor and great friend Kamila Skolimowska.
Skolimowska, the Sydney 2000 Olympic champion, died of a pulmonary embolism in 2009 at the age of 26.
Even with Wlodarczyk’s problems, the closest challenge to her crown was from China’s Zheng Wang, who won her first world medal by throwing 75.98 to claim silver.
Wlodarczyk may have shown that she can still dominate for years to come. But if she does decide to hang up her glove, the future of Polish hammer throwing looks promising as compatriot Malwina Kopron claimed the bronze medal.
Despite three no-throws in the final, the 22-year-old’s first attempt of 74.76 was enough to secure a medal, a best senior finish which almost moved the Pole to tears.
“After the first attempt, I could not believe that it would secure me a medal. I was like: ‘Come on, send it even further in the second and third.’ In training, I was throwing very far, much further than here,” she said.
“But in the end, I was lucky and I will leave London with my first big medal. I felt like crying at the end of the competition.”
First Published: Aug 08, 2017 10:43 IST