Yulimar Rojas in action in the triple jump (© AFP / Getty Images)
Yulimar Rojas provided a stunning climax to the Meeting de Madrid as the world indoor triple jump champion bounded out to a national record of 15.02m at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Madrid on Thursday evening (23).
The Venezuelan was desperately looking for a return to form after two disappointing outings at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in Rabat and Rome but competing barely 50 kilometres from her semi-permanent base in Guadalajara, and no doubt assisted by Madrid's helpful altitude of 670 metres, she showed her mettle in the Spanish capital.
Portugal’s Susana Costa had taken an early lead with her first-round 14.31m but, following an opening foul, Rojas produced a windy 14.53m in the second round to take the lead and restore her confidence.
Jumps of 14.57m (1.6m/s) and 14.78m (0.7m/s) followed in the third and fifth rounds, bracketing a foul, before her massive effort with all the stadium’s attention on her as the rest of the evening programme had come to an end a few minutes before.
Rojas became the 24th woman to jump 15.00m or more. However, at the age of 20 years and 246 days she is the youngest of them all to jump that halcyon distance. Coached by Cuba’s Ivan Pedroso, Rojas consolidated her second place on this year’s list and is now just two centimetres behind Colombia’s two-time world champion Caterine Ibarguen.
On a night when a cluster of national records fell, Costa Rica’s 2012 world indoor champion Nery Brenes took 0.05 off his five-year-old 400m mark when he sped around one lap of the Centro Deportivo Municipal Moratalaz track in 44.60 in the men’s 400m.
“I’m broken,” said an exhausted Brenes, who could only talk to the media 20 minutes after his effort. “I’m now based in Barcelona until the Olympics and it’s really hot there but it’s even hotter in Madrid.
“I went out quite fast, caught the athlete on my right before the first bend was over and only faded a bit on the closing 40m. My next competition will be in Monaco but I only have eyes for the Olympics where I hope to make my first outdoor final at a major championships, that’s my primary goal now.”
Slovenia’s Luka Janezic took second in a national record of 45.22.
In the women’s event, Canada’s Carline Muir set a personal best of 51.05 with Portugal’s Catia Azevedo breaking the 17-year-old Portuguese record when finishing second with 51.63 to take a full second from her previous best of 52.63.
Hortelano makes the home crowd happy
Running on the far side of the stadium, down the back straight, to take advantage of the prevailing breeze, Iran’s Hassan Taftian improved his 100m national record by 0.06 to 10.04 (1.0m/s) with Spain’s Bruno Hortelano second in 10.06.
It was the second national record of the night for Hortelano who had won his semi-final in 10.08 to take 0.19 off his previous best of 10.27 which dated back to 2012.
“This is a tremendously important season for me so I have worked harder than ever looking for these kind of times,” said Hortelano, who completed his degree at the prestigious Ivey League Cornell University in May, and will now be based in Madrid as he prepares for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“I’m now closer enough to think of running under the 10-second barrier but the 200m will remain my primary goal and that’s the distance I will contest at the European Championships in Amsterdam.
“I would like to dedicate this performance to Angel Rodriguez, the former record-holder (10.14), who has inspired me a lot throughout the years, and to my coach Adrian Durant,” added the 24-year-old.
Ruth Beitia won the women’s high jump with 1.93m, the same height as Italy’s Alessia Trost, and although both women cleared that height on their second attempt before failing three times at 1.95m, the two-time European champion got the verdict due to fewer failures earlier in the competition.
“After two competitions held in cold and wet conditions, I’m delighted to have jumped in sunny Madrid,” said the 37-year-old. “I couldn’t surpass the bar at 1.95m, but I feel I have trained pretty well this season and I’m sure higher heights will come soon.”
Although no one has cleared 2.00m so far this year, Beitia believes the competition in Rio will still be fierce.
“Poland’s Kamila Licwinko has recently jumped 1.99m and three more athletes have managed 1.97m, so bit by bit the world list is taking shape,” said Beitia. “I’ll next compete in Murcia on Sunday (26) where I would like to get 1.95m and then I’ll go straight to the Europeans and Spanish Championships.”
Nigeria’s multi-talented Blessing Okagbare won the women’s 100m in 11.09 (1.0m/s) with Ecuador’s Angela Tenorio second in 11.13.
Also running down the back straight, Orlando Ortega has raised hopes that he could challenge his recent Spanish record of 13.12 after running a just ever-so-slightly windy 13.25 in his heat but could only improve to 13.17 (0.9m/s) in the final.
In an exciting 400m hurdles, Jeshua Anderson won in 48.96 but had to work hard to hold off the fast-finishing Eric Cray from the Philippines, who set a national record of 48.98. Spain’s Sergio Fernandez was third in 49.02, just 0.02 shy of the 29-year-old national record.
True to his trademark powerful late change, Amel Tuka from Bosnia and Herzegovina was successful in the men’s 800m by pipping Burundi’s world indoor silver medallist Antoine Gakeme on the finish line. Just 0.01 separated both men as they set respective season’s bests of 1:45.23 and 1:45.24.
Germany’s European U23 long jump champion Fabian Heinle took his speciality with 8.01m marginally ahead of 2013 world silver medallist Ignisious Gaisah of The Netherlands who reached 8.00 while Austria’s Lukas Weisshaidinger won the discus with 64.42m.
China’s Li Lingwei took the women’s javelin with a season’s best of 61.96m, Ethiopia’s Birtukan Fente won the 3000m steeplechase in 9:42.64, and Cuba’s Rosemary Almanza was fastest in the 800m with a 2:00.22 clocking.
Emeterio Valiente and Phil Minshull for the IAAF