Saladuha dominates triple jump with world-leading 14.88m | 03.03.2013
|The Ukraine's Olha Saladuha bounded out to a world season-leading
jump of 14.88m to win the triple jump gold medal in Göteborg on
Sunday. (Getty Images)
The 29-year-old world champion and double European outdoor champion had dominated the qualifying competition, requiring just one jump of 14.47m to progress, and her approach to the final followed a similar pattern as she registered her landmark jump in the first round.
She knew it was big before she had even exited the sand, and you could clearly sense her excitement as she bounced up and down on both feet alongside the landing pit, waiting for the numbers to come up. When they did, there was a roar of acclaim in the arena and Saladuha set off back up the runway, shaking her right first in the air, back towards her waiting opponents. A metaphorical gauntlet lay between them.
In truth, the gold had been won at that moment. For her part, Saladuha whose previous indoor best of 14.79m had also been set in Sweden, coming in in last year's meeting at Stockholm - found it hard to match her gold standard opener. She registered only one other mark, a fourth round effort of 14.68m which proved to be the second furthest distance of the final, 38 centimetres ahead of silver medallist Irina Gumenyuk of Russia, who was engaged in a tight battle with Italy's Simona La Mantia for second position.
By the third round, Gumenyuk was in silver position on 14.25m, one centimetre ahead of La Mantia. But after the Russian failed to register a third round effort, the Italian moved past her by one centimetre. Gumenyuk, however, responded to the competitive challenge in the next round, producing her best of the day, 14.30m, and the Italian was unable to approach her best in any of her three final jumps, settling eventually for bronze in a season's best distance.
Veronika Mosina of Russia missed out on the medals by one place and five centimetres, her best of 14.21m coming in the first round.
"I'm very happy - I've worked very hard for this medal," said Saladuka, adding that her "dream" was to be like her compatriot Inessa Kravets, the 1996 Olympic champion whose world record of 15.50m, set at the 1995 World Championships staged in this same city, still stands.
La Mantia admitted afterwards that it had been a very tough final, adding" "I knew that Saladuha was going to be impossible to beat."
Gumenyuk commented: "The competition was so hard for me I feel great emotions now. It was a holiday for me to be here because the organisation of the Euros was perfect."
For Britain's world indoor champion Yamile Aldama, the former Cuba and Sudan competitor, the injuries which have hampered her winter training and indoor season eventually proved too great for her to shine, although she had the small consolation of a season's best of 13.95m in sixth place.
"It wasn't good enough to get a medal, but I'm taking some positives from this competition," Aldama said. "I know what I need to work on to make sure I'm ready for the summer. I know what I have to do and you just have to do your best rather than focus on someone else.
"I thought with all the surgery I had before this year I thought I could do better, but it didn't quite happen. I can't tell you distances for the outdoors but I know it will be a lot better."