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Feature04 Mar 2015

Ibarguen’s big dreams


World triple jump champion Caterine Ibarguen (© Getty Images)

Colombian triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen won her second successive Diamond Race title in 2014 and set a South American record of 15.31m at the Monaco IAAF Diamond League meeting.

Here the world triple jump champion looks back on a successful 2014 and talks about her goals for the season ahead.

You remain undefeated since the 2012 Olympic final and claimed your second Diamond Race trophy in 2014. How do you assess your season?

Caterine Ibarguen: It was an excellent year. Apart from the Diamond League wins and the 15.31m, I am proud of my consistency and of winning gold for Colombia at the Central American Games in Mexico and contributing to the Americas team at the Continental Cup. And I was very happy to be nominated for the IAAF Athlete of the Year Award.

You finally joined the 15-metre club with your 15.31m in Monaco and are now ranked fifth on the all-time list. What does this mean for you?

CI: This 15.31mm was a much expected result; I mean breaking the 15-metre mark. This result will help me aim for more, but I have to continue working on each aspect – the hop, step and jump. I have weaknesses in all three.

What are your plans for 2015? Is there a world record in sight?

CI: I have two main goals: my title defence at the World Championships in Beijing and the Pan American Games in Toronto. I will do everything I can, train responsibly and take good care of myself. I am setting the bar high.

As for the world record, this is my biggest dream together with an Olympic gold. I would love to break it in 2015. It is a commitment I made with myself, my coach and my country. I will work with discipline but also treat it as a party to handle it more easily, physically and mentally. Music helps me, for instance – I listen to Vallenato [Colombian folk music].

You have represented Colombia since you were 15 but only started to enjoy success in 2011. How did you cope with failure?

CI: I must confess I thought of retiring from athletics after failing to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games. I thought my potential had reached its peak. I would like to thank my coach (Ubaldo) Duany who asked me to believe in him and his project to take me to a world medal. He approached me in 2006 and I said ‘no’ because we had not had much success in our region. In 2008, I accepted his invitation but at the beginning I thought he was crazy. Then we started to pave the way together. I started to dream and now I believe in his project.

How does it feel to represent Colombia around the world?

CI: It is most gratifying to make a country happy and show the youth their dreams can come true, like mine. It inspires me to do my best and show a positive side of my country. I love the interaction with children and being a role model.

Colombia will be the first Latin American country to host the IAAF World Youth Championships when they’re held in Calí in 2015. What does it mean for the country and you personally?

CI: It is a great opportunity for my country. We can show the world our talent and that Colombia is a country of kind people, great food, a lot of diversity and many opportunities. I can’t wait for the world to see how beautiful my country is.

Javier Clavelo Robinson for 365

This article was taken from the 2014 IAAF yearbook, 365. Information on how to order the yearbook can be found on the publications page.