Yulimar Rojas (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Untouchable Yulimar Rojas set a new outright world record in the triple jump at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade on Sunday en route to winning an unprecedented third title.
The Venezuelan, who previously won indoor golds in Birmingham in 2018 and Portland in 2016, smashed her own previous best of 15.43 metres when she soared out to 15.74m on her sixth and final attempt at the Stark Arena.
It capped yet another dominant display of triple jumping by the Venezuelan — not since the 2016 Rio Olympics has she been defeated at a global championships, and on that occasion she still secured silver.
The two-time world outdoor champion also holds the outdoor world record, 15.67m, which she set when winning gold in Tokyo last summer.
“I achieved my third indoor title here which is crowned with the world record, I cannot be more thankful,” said Rojas.
“Coming here, I knew it was the right time to achieve this and I took the chance. I did not want to miss this opportunity today.
“Now, I want to focus on the world outdoor championships in Oregon and I think there is a big chance of making a double – 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.”
A day after the onlooking Yaroslava Mahuchikh won an emotional gold for the six-strong Ukraine team in the women’s high jump, her teammate Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk claimed silver behind Rojas after going out to 14.74m with her final jump.
Jamaican Kimberly Williams took bronze (14.59).
There was a mixed bag for two other Olympic champions, Gianmarco Tamberi and Selemon Barega, on show on the third and final morning session at the world indoors.
Tamberi, who shared Olympic gold with absent Qatari Mutaz Essa Barshim in Tokyo, was seeking to clinch a second indoor title after previous success in 2016.
But unlike Rojas, the Italian did not have it all his own way, eventually taking away a joint bronze with New Zealand’s Hamish Kerr as South Korea’s Woo Sanghyeok bagged gold with 2.34m ahead of Swiss Loic Gasch (2.31).
All eyes were on Tamberi the track showman, but the grinning Korean thrived in the attention of a raucous crowd treated on numerous occasions to a remix of PSY’s “Gangnam Style” song pumped out on the tannoy.
“I felt like I had only one good jump today so I am happy that I ended up with the gold medal on my neck,” the 25-year-old said. “The crowd was a very good factor today.
“It is very important for me because this is my first indoor season and I competed quite a lot. Every competition gave me more and more energy and power and I enjoyed it a lot.”
Ethiopia’s Barega, in the absence of teammate Berihu Aregawi who failed to qualify for the final, claimed an impressive victory in the 3000m, racing home in 7min 41.38sec to add gold to his 2018 silver.
Teammate Lamecha Girma claimed silver, 0.25sec off Barega’s pace, while Briton Marc Scott took bronze (+0.64).
The versatile Barega, Olympic 10,000m champion and a world outdoor silver medallist in 2019 over 5,000m, was happy to sit behind a clutch of leaders as Girma surged, splitting the field into single file.
Girma, closely tracked by Kenya’s Daniel Simiu Ebenyo, ceded the lead to Barega with three laps to go.
Barega slowed the pace and suddenly there were seven bunched at the bell, but the two Ethiopians then hit the after-burners to sprint clear, Scott outpacing Ebenyo for bronze.
“We came to Belgrade aiming to make next history for Ethiopian long distance running,” Barega said.
“With Girma we discussed the possibility to do the team work to help each other to make the podium. Our tactic has paid off.
“I just wanted to make the pace fast and comfortable. Then I have to slow down to keep more power for the finish kick. It was a very good plan.”