Venezuelan recovers from injury to take title at IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham
Reigning world indoor and outdoor champion Yulimar Rojas lived up to her billing as favourite to win the women’s triple jump on Saturday morning, but she left it late to clinch victory.
When the World Indoors was last held in Birmingham in 2003, Britain’s Ashia Hansen won triple jump gold with a big fifth-round leap and on Saturday morning the Venezuelan Rojas also sealed victory in the same round with a 14.63m effort.
This left Kimberly Williams with silver – the Jamaican having led the competition from the start with 14.37m in the first round before improving to 14.41m and 14.48m in subsequent rounds.
Williams finished first in the Spar British Indoor Championships in the same Arena Birmingham a fortnight earlier and the 29-year-old, who is also competing in the Commonwealth Games next month in Australia, looked at home in the venue as she held the lead.
But Rojas’ class told as the world No.1, who beat Caterine Ibarguen at London 2017 amid an economic crisis back in her native Venezuela, did enough to win.
In the build-up to the event Rojas had been bothered by a foot injury, but the athlete, who is coached by five-time world indoor long jump champion Iván Pedroso of Cuba, improved her fitness on the eve of the championships at a training camp in Portugal.
“This is a great achievement for Venezuela and for our nation,” the winner said. “I hope I brought a bit of joy to them and they enjoyed watching it.
“Thanks to god, thanks to my family, and my federation. I trained so hard for this. It is hard to find words to describe my feelings. It was a difficult competition and it has given me great inspiration for the summer.”
Williams said: “I was leading for a while but I wasn’t able to respond, that’s just how it is in the triple jump. I have to work harder next time to get a gold.”
Behind Rojas and Ibarguen, Spain’s Anna Peleteiro, the 2012 world junior champion who is also coached by Pedroso, took bronze with 14.40m, while Dovilė Dzindzaletaitė of Lithuania, the wife of former world indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty, returned to championship action following the birth of her child by finishing 12th with 13.90m.
» Full coverage in the March 8 issue of AW