Olympic Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 14 August 2016.
The final of the 2016 Olympic Women’s Triple Jump was, without doubt, the highest standard competition of the year and saw the World’s Leading jump, as well as 2 National Records set, as 7 athletes exceeded 14.50m.
With just the 3rd jump of the competition USA’s Keturah Orji set the bar high as she bettered her own American record by 18cm with a leap of 14.71m. Just 2 jumps later the reigning Olympic Champion, Olga Rypakova, hit a Season’s Best of 14.73m to show that she wasn’t going to let her title go without a fight. The World Leader and pre-competition favourite, Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen, had only lost once since taking silver at London 2012 when Rypakova defeated her at the Birmingham IAAF Diamond League Meeting in June, and must have wondered if Rypakova would get the better of her once more. She brought the 1st round to a close with 14.65m, which placed her in 3rd spot, and already we knew we were in for a great competition.
In round 2 Commonwealth Champion Kimberly Williams leapt 14.48m to move into 4th, while World Indoor Champion Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela fouled, after a 14.32m opener, to find herself 7th and seemingly well off her 15 metre form of the early summer. Ibarguen took to the runway for her 2nd jump, desperate to avenge her 2012 Olympic defeat, and powered out to 15.03m, just 1cm shy of her 2016 World Lead. Game over? Not a chance.In round 3 Rojas rediscovered her form and, despite still showing a very short undeveloped step phase, she hit 14.87m to move into silver medal position and demonstrate that Ibarguen still had work to do to secure the gold medal she craved so much.
Rojas cranked up the pressure even more in round 4 as she hit 14.95m, just 7cm shy of her PB and NR and 8cm off Ibarguen’s lead. Israel’s Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko then leapt a Season’s Best of 14.68m to move up to 5th, just 5cm off 3rd place. With Rojas getting closer and closer Ibarguen had to respond – or risk another Olympic disappointment. With her 4th effort she flew down the runway and reached out to a massive new World Lead of 15.17m, just 14cm shy of her 15.31m PB from 2014. Surely that would be enough?
Patricia Mamona of Portugal had set a NR of 14.58m when taking gold at the recent European Championships. She improved on that in round 5 with 14.65m, but still found herself in 6th position in Rio such was the standard of jumping on display. With just 8cm now covering 3rd to 6th Rypakova could sense that her place on the podium was under threat and she improved her best by another precious centimetre on her 5th attempt with 14.74m. With Rojas hitting 14.66m and Ibarguen 14.76m it was still in the balance going into the last round to decide who would take the Olympic crown.
Kimberly Williams improved to 14.53m with her last jump, and while Mamona hit 14.59m and Rypakova 14.58m, there were no other improvements in the battle for bronze meaning that 2012 Champion Rypakova had made the Olympic podium once more in 2016. Just 2 jumps remained and Rojas hit the runway first. Chasing Ibarguen’s 15.17m she bounded out to close to the 15 metre line once more. The measurement of 14.95m came up on the scoreboard and Ibarguen’s victory was confirmed. She hit 14.80m with her last jump, but that was purely academic. She was the new Olympic Champion!
After dominating the Women’s Triple Jump over the past 4 years, as well as another imperious display in Rio, Ibarguen’s Olympic title is no more than she deserves and she was clearly ready to party in celebration on South American soil as the contest came to a close. It was a great competition, worthy of an Olympic final, and a great advert for the Women’s Triple Jump event. Rojas showed once again that she is still a raw talent with technical flaws who could dominate the event for many years if she can sort out her step phase. But the Ibarguen is the boss – for now – and the Olympic gold is hers to savour.
1. Caterine Ibarguen (Colombia) 15.17m (+0.4m/s) WL
2. Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela) 14.98m (+0.8m/s)
3. Olga Rypakova (Kazakhstan) 14.74m (+0.3m/s)
4. Keturah Orji (USA) 14.71m (+0.0m/s) NR
5. Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko (Israel) 14.68m (+0.5m/s)
6. Patricia Mamona (Portugal) 14.65m (+0.1m/s) NR
7. Kimberly Williams (Jamaica) 14.53m (+0.4m/s)
8. Paraskevi Papachristou (Greece) 14.26m (+0.4m/s)
9. Susana Costa (Portugal) 14.12m (+0.6m/s)
10. Anna Jagaciak (Poland) 14.07m (+0.9m/s)
11. Kristin Gierisch (Germany) 13.96m (-0.2m/s)
12. Kristiina Mäkelä (Finland) 13.95m (+0.1m/s)