Last-gasp Rojas wins fourth straight world triple jump gold

Venezuela's Yulimar Rojas celebrates winning the women's triple jump (Ben Stansall)
Venezuela's Yulimar Rojas celebrates winning the women's triple jump (Ben Stansall)

Venezuela's Yulimar Rojas snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in astonishing style to win a fourth consecutive women's triple jump at the World Athletics Championships on Friday.

Rojas jumped 15.08m on her sixth and final attempt having struggled in the early rounds while Ukraine's Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, who had led for five jumps, took silver with 15.00m.

Cuban Leyanis Perez Hernandez claimed bronze with 14.96m.

After the opening three jumps in Budapest, Rojas had jumped a best of just 14.33m to scrape into the top eight of the 12-strong field who advance to the second half of the competition.

The Venezuelan fouled in her fourth and fifth jumps, on each occasion grimacing in anguish as she picked herself up from the sandpit.

Yet somehow Rojas dug deep to muster all her technical prowess and physical might for her sixth and final attempt, sailing out to her winning 15.08m.

She could barely believe it when the distance flashed up on the big screen, collapsing to her knees with her hands covering her face.

"It was very difficult," Rojas admitted. "The fact that I won the competition with my last attempt makes it very special and memorable.

"This is my seventh world championship gold in a row (outdoors and indoors), but this is the most special of all of them.

"My last attempt was proof of the hard work I have done, my mental state and my self confidence. I didn't care about the distance, the only thing I had in mind was to win the gold."

- First medal for Ukraine -

Up until Rojas' last jump, all the signs were that European champion Bekh-Romanchuk was set to go one better than her silver medal in Doha in 2019.

Bekh-Romanchuk leapt a season's best of 15.00m on her first attempt to take control of the leaderboard as Rojas looked in dreadful early form.

But the Ukrainian eventually had to be content with silver, her war-torn country's first medal of these championships.

"Maybe people saw my calm, focused and confident face, but believe me nobody knows what I felt deep inside," said the Ukrainian, adding she had been "training all taped up from head to toe".

"Tonight I just enjoyed my jumps, the whole competition and everything I did. I think Yulimar Rojas also had a difficult season, but I was sure she could jump over 15m."

Perez Hernandez admitted that "if someone could change the result at the last minute it would be Yulimar".

"I was expecting my position to change, but even with this medal I am not satisfied with my performance. It is my first medal at a world championships and I am very proud, but today was not my day," she said.

For Rojas, the gold was yet another accolade for a triple jumper who has reigned supreme at global championships since 2017.

Not only did the 27-year-old win world golds in London that year, in Doha two years later and in Eugene last year, but she also became Olympic champion in the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021 with a then world record of 15.67m.

That mark was improved to 15.74m when the Venezuelan won her third world indoor title in Belgrade in 2022.

The last time Rojas was beaten in her speciality was more than two years ago and although she lost when making her senior global championships debut at the Rio Olympics in 2016, she still secured silver.