Mariya Lasitskene, winner of the high jump at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (© Getty Images)
Mariya Lasitskene notched a superb three-peat in the high jump to highlight field event action on the fourth day of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.
Jumping under her maiden name Kuchina, she topped 2.01m to take the title in Beijing four years ago, and 2.03m in London in 2017. She went even higher this year, piecing together a perfect scorecard through the winning height of 2.04m to become the first three-time world champion in the event.
“It was like in a fairy tale to get a third world title,” said the 26-year-old authorised neutral athlete, who arrived in Doha as one of the biggest favourites of the championships. But she nonetheless had unexpected company through to the finish.
Two years ago, she was pushed by Ukraine’s Yuliya Levchencko, who came of age in London topping a lifetime best of 2.01m while still a teenager to take silver. This time, it was her teammate Yaroslava Mahuchikh, another teenager, who turned 18 just 11 days ago but who performed like a seasoned veteran.
Fighting to find her rhythm, Mahuchikh needed second tries at 1.89m and 1.96m before moving on to the higher heights where she actually appeared more at ease. She sailed over 1.98m with her first attempt, and 2.00m on her third, just the second time she cleared that still formidable barrier.
Meanwhile, US champion Vashti Cunningham and Levchenko were also jumping well, the American a perfect six-for-six through 2.00m and the Ukrainian flawless through 1.98m before topping 2.00m on the third time of asking. That marked just the second time that four woman have topped 2.00m at a World Championships. The other was in Osaka 12 years ago.
Mahuchikh’s streak continued with a first attempt success at 2.02m, a shock clearance that added one centimetre to the world U20 record* shared by Olga Turchak of the former Soviet Union and Heike Balck of the former East Germany, marks set in 1986 and 1989, respectively.
Cunningham and Levchenko bowed out at the height, bronze going to the American on countback. But Mahuchikh wasn’t finished.
After Lasitskene sailed clear on her first try at 2.04m, Mahuchikh followed with a decent first attempt, close enough to suggest the teenager had more in reserve. Her second was even closer. On the third she brushed the bar on the way down, but it stayed on. Mahuchikh was ecstatic.
“I knew I was ready to set my new PB in the final and I put some kind of the pressure on myself,” Mahuchikh said. “I'm feeling really happy and incredibly tired in the same time.”
The last time two jumpers topped 2.04m at a World Championships was at the second edition in Rome 22 years ago. That battle between Stefka Kostadinova and Tamara Bykova resulted in a world record, the former's 2.09m, which still stands today.
That didn’t come to pass this time. Knowing that 2.06m would be out of reach, Mahuchikh called it a night, content with surprise silver. Lasitskene then bowed out after three tries at 2.08m.
“Today, we had an incredible competition,” the winner said. “I did not have any other choice than to jump higher and higher. Now, I feel like I left all my power and energy in the field. If Yaroslava decided to jump 2.06m, I also was ready to extend our fight.”
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF