Caterine Ibarguen in the triple jump at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (© Getty Images)
Caterine Ibarguen wasn’t going to end her near-undefeated Olympic cycle without winning the one that mattered the most.
The two-time world champion was put under pressure from the outset, though, and initially it came from an unexpected source: USA’s Keturah Orji.
The 20-year-old took an early lead when she bounded out to 14.71m with her opening jump, breaking her own national record.
Her lead lasted just a matter of minutes, though, as defending champion Olga Rypakova jumped 14.73m. Ibarguen, last in the running order, tried to respond but managed just 14.65m with her opening effort. The Colombian wasn’t concerned, though.
With a valid mark on the board, Ibarguen turned things up a notch in the second round, sailing out to 15.03m. Now it was Ibarguen who was applying the pressure. The 32-year-old was in control and it was down to the other finalists to respond.
World indoor champion Yulimar Rojas decided it was time to have a go. The Venezuelan landed a 14.87m jump in the third round to move from seventh to second, bumping Orji out of the medals.
World silver medallist Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko was the next to show her cards. The Israeli reached a season’s best of 14.68m in the fourth round to move into the top five.
Later that round, Rojas increased the pressure on Ibarguen, sailing out to 14.98m (5.44m hop, 3.98m step, 5.56m jump) to come within five centimetres of Ibarguen’s lead.
Ibarguen didn’t mind, though. It was just the motivation she needed.
She was next up to jump and charged down the runway before bounding out to a world-leading 15.17m (5.48m hop, 4.57m step, 5.12m jump) to increase her lead over her competitors.
European champion Patricia Mamona produced a Portuguese record of 14.65m in the fifth round, but it was only good enough for fifth place. Rypakova, meanwhile, improved slightly to 14.74m to consolidate her bronze medal position.
Rojas had one more big jump left, but her last-round leap of 14.95m wasn’t an improvement, which meant that Ibarguen was confirmed the winner. Ibarguen rounded out her series with a solid 14.80m jump before grabbing a Colombian flag and celebrating with the enthusiastic supporters positioned near the triple jump pit.
Ibarguen becomes the first Colombian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal, while Rojas earned Venezuela's first Olympic medal in a women's athletics event. Orji, meanwhile, produced the highest ever finish by a US athlete in the women's triple jump at the Olympic Games.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF