An epic high-quality battle between two leading Triple Jumpers was one of the main highlights of the corresponding meeting last year and so it proved again in 2016 as the IAAF Diamond League season kicked off in Doha. Last year it was Pedro Pablo Pichardo versus Christian Taylor in the Men’s event, this year though it was the Women’s Triple Jump that took centre stage as Caterine Ibarguen battled to retain her long unbeaten record against the new star of the sport, Venezuela’s recently crowned World Indoor Champion Yulimar Rojas.
Jumping 8th and 9th in the order of jumping, with Rojas preceding the World Outdoor Champion, the 20 year-old got off to an unspectacular start to the competition with 13.91m before Ibarguen opened with a new Meeting Record of 14.46m, leading from Olga Rypakova’s 14.23m. Rojas responded in Round 2 with a new outdoor PB, National Record and World Lead of 14.61m, but just minutes later Ibarguen improved again to 14.77m. Rojas fired back in Round 3 – 14.79m to update the marks she had set in Round 2, and to take the lead. Was Ibarguen’s unbeaten streak since the 2012 Olympic Final finally over? No Jumps in Rounds 3 and 4 for the Colombian may have hinted that this was not to be her day, but drawing upon all of her experience, Ibarguen flew out to yet another World Lead in Round 5 – 15.04m. Rojas still wasn’t finished though, and she responded with a wind-assisted 14.92m. In the final round neither jumper could improve (Ibarguen 14.98m, Rojas foul), so Ibarguen took the spoils and stretched her unbeaten record to a remarkable 32 competitions. The prospect of many more battles this year between these two South American jumpers, in both the Diamond League and the Rio Olympics, is one to savour though and, hopefully, will push the Women’s Triple Jump into the athletics spotlight this summer.
While the fight for victory may have been a 1-2-1 battle between Ibarguen and Rojas, behind them Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan showed that she may still have something to offer when defending her Olympic crown this summer, as she took 3rd with 14.61m. In 4th spot came Jeanine Assani Issouf of France who improved her PB by 2cm to 14.26m, a mark shared by Greece’s Paraskevi Papachristou (Assani Issouf taking the place by virtue of a 14.19 jump againt the Greek’s 14.15m opener). World Leader going into the competition with 14.57m, Shanieka Thomas of Jamaica, had a disappointing competition jumping 14.10m for 6th.
1. Caterine Ibarguen (Colombia) 15.04m WORLD LEAD
2. Yulimar Rojas (Venezeula) 14.92w (14.79 NR)
3. Olga Rypakova (Kazakhstan) 14.61m
4. Jeanine Assani Issouf (France) 14.26m PB
5. Paraskevi Papachristou (Greece) 14.26m
6. Shanieka Thomas (Jamaica) 14.10m
7. Dana Velďáková (Slovakia) 14.06m
8. Kiela Costa (Brazil) 13.69m
9. Anna Jagaciak (Poland) 13.67m
It was always going to be a tall order for the Men’s contest to live up to last year’s event, when 18.04m was only good enough for 2nd place, but following on from the Women’s competition earlier that evening there was a sense of anti-climax about proceedings despite a new World Leading jump.
Cuba’s Alexis Copello led after Round 1 with 16.88m as World Indoor Champion Bin Dong fouled and Olympic & World Outdoor Champion Christian Taylor opened up with 16.63m. In Round 2 Haiti’s Samyr Laine improved to 16.64m and British-based Tosin Oke of Nigeria set a new season’s best of 16.73m. Dong fouled again while Taylor took the lead in breaking the 17 metre barrier with 17.09m. In the following round Copello improved to 16.98m while Kazakhstan’s Roman Valiyev hit 16.77m. That was good enough to guarantee three extra jumps for Valiyev as Teddy Tamgho bowed out with a best effort of 16.54m in Round 3, though his return to Diamond League competition following injury at last year’s meeting is surely the start of more to come this year for the former World Champion. Dong reached out to his first legal jump of 17.07m to put down the challenge to Taylor who responded with 17.19m for a new World Lead.
The final three Rounds, restricted to just the top 4 jumpers under new Diamond League rules, saw little improvement from the leaders, with Dong passing his last 2 efforts. Determined to leave on a high despite a disappointing contest as far as distances may have been concerned, Christian Taylor added another 4cm to the World Lead on his last effort to take victory with 17.23m.
Britain’s Nathan Douglas opened up with 16.43m, just 1cm below Nathan Fox’s UK Lead this summer, but fouls in Rounds 2 and 3 meant he will have to wait another day before challenging for the Olympic qualifying standard of 16.85m this summer. Leevan Sands may have been disappointed with 16.30m but his return to Diamond League competition after 4 years of knee rehabiliation is a milestone he can now build upon on the road to Rio.
1. Christian Taylor (USA) 17.23m WORLD LEAD
2. Bin Dong (China) 17.07m
3. Alexis Copello (Cuba) 16.98m
4. Roman Valiyev (Kazakhstan) 16.77m
5. Tosin Oke (Nigeria) 16.73m
6. Samyr Laine (Haiti) 16.64m
7. Teddy Tamgho (France) 16.54m
8. Nathan Douglas (GB) 16.43m
9. Leevan Sands (Bahamas) 16.30m