‘Pure magic or chance?’: Rojas smashes triple jump world record

BELGRADE, Serbia, Mar 20 Yulimar Rojas didn’t know whether it was “pure magic or chance”, but was left living a dream as she soared to a new world outright triple jump record as she won indoor gold on Sunday.

The Olympic champion soared out to 15.74 metres on her sixth and final effort in Belgrade, smashing the previous world indoor best of 15.43 she set in Madrid in February 2020.

Rojas also holds the outdoor world record, 15.67m, which she set when winning gold in Tokyo last summer.

The Venezuelan set the new mark to win an unprecedented third consecutive world title after previous successes in Birmingham in 2018 and Portland in 2016.

Worryingly for her rival triple jumpers, Rojas said her goal was now the 16-metre mark, also threatening that doubling up in the long jump could not be ruled out in the future, potentially at the upcoming world outdoor champs in Eugene, Oregon.

“It’s been like living a dream for me today,” she said of her performance in the Serbian capital.

“I wanted to come here with my coach (Ivan Pedroso) and have some fun. I was in great shape and I felt I could do great things.

“I’m very happy because I achieved everything I wanted and more.”

Rojas said she wasn’t sure whether her record-setting jump had been “pure magic or chance”.

“It could have happened at any jump, but happened on the last one. It looks a bit like a jump for glory!

“Nothing is impossible, that’s my motto,” Rojas said when asked if the 16m mark could be under threat.

“I have two motivations in life: achieve 16 metres and doing better than the legend that is my coach, Ivan Pedroso,” the former Cuban long jumper who won Olympic long jump gold as well as five indoor and four outdoor world titles.

“I will get there. I was born to jump 16 metres and this is what inspires me to help inspire others… I know I have 16 metres in my legs and that is my target.”

– Second medal for Ukraine –

Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk © AFP / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC

A day after the onlooking Yaroslava Mahuchikh won an emotional gold for Ukraine in the women’s high jump, her teammate Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk claimed silver.

The Ukrainian went out to 14.74m with her sixth and final effort, a full metre behind Rojas. Jamaican Kimberly Williams took bronze (14.59).

Mahuchikh might have hogged the limelight on Saturday, but the triple jump was only about one person — Rojas.

The 26-year-old had soared out to a safe looking 15.19m in the first round and fouled in the second. In the third she was beyond 15 metres again before fouling in the fourth and nailing what looked like the winning jump of 15.36m fifth time out.

But she was not finished. Legally attacking the board on her last effort, she moved from her hop and into her step and jump, landing in the sand further than she ever has indoors or out.

Not only did her startling effort bag her a new best, but also her sixth consecutive global gold medal.

No one in the field came close, although it was just the second time in any indoor competition that 10 women have jumped beyond 14 metres.

Ukraine’s silver medallist Bekh-Romanchuk was left revelling in her first international competition, but had a short turnaround before she competed in the long jump in the evening session.

“I’m overemotional now,” she said. “I devote this medal to all Ukrainian people, to the Ukrainian armed forces that defend our country.

“I could prove today that we are a really strong and unbeatable nation.”

Bekh-Romanchuk added: “When we heard that we could come to the world indoors I decided to double up and do both.

“It maybe sounds a bit crazy for a newcomer to do both on the same day.”

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