Yulimar Rojas — queen of the triple bounce — units her sights lengthy


The proprietor of the world report, a number of indoor and outside World titles and an Olympic gold needs to breach 16m. She additionally has designs on extending her dominance throughout the horizontal jumps by capturing a triple jump-long bounce double at a Main competitors

The proprietor of the world report, a number of indoor and outside World titles and an Olympic gold needs to breach 16m. She additionally has designs on extending her dominance throughout the horizontal jumps by capturing a triple jump-long bounce double at a Main competitors

Yulimar Rojas at an athletics stadium is a spectacle to behold — and that’s even earlier than she takes flight. As she will get the group going firstly of her run-up, a putting 6’4” lean-muscled tremendous athlete, the probabilities seem countless. As soon as she explodes off her hop and step, and will get airborne, she appears to be like like one thing out of a kinetically drawn panel in a comic book e-book.

As a fan of Marvel Girl and Batman, it’s a comparability the Venezuelan ‘Le reina del triple salto’ (or ‘Queen of the triple bounce’) enjoys. “On this sense, I’m a bit like a toddler,” she mentioned. “I like superheroes and I hope to be thought of a superhero in my nation and on this planet.”

The primary time Rojas felt like a superhero on the large stage was in Rio in 2016. Making her debut on the Olympics, she engaged in a powerful battle with Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen earlier than taking silver. “From that second I knew I wished to be a heroine to my land. It was a terrific duel. It was a incredible night time for me. It was a dream to have an Olympic medal on my chest — a day I’ll always remember. Nevertheless it gave me a purpose: to listen to the Venezuelan nationwide anthem in Tokyo.”

Purpose realised

Rojas achieved that purpose final 12 months, breaking the Olympic report along with her first bounce within the ultimate earlier than shattering the world report along with her final bounce of 15.67m, crushing by 17 centimetres a 26-year-old report that had been held by Ukrainian Inessa Kravets. She additionally turned the primary girl to win Olympic gold for Venezuela, scripting a wonderful chapter within the nation’s historical past.

Rojas has continued to dominate the triple bounce, successful her third World Championships title in July in Oregon. She additionally has three indoor World crowns, the newest of which, in March in Belgrade, noticed her break the world report once more, with a bounce of 15.74m. She is unbeaten within the self-discipline at Main competitions since that silver in Rio six years in the past.

Hers has been a outstanding story of triumphing in opposition to the chances. In a rustic the place the economic system collapsed years in the past, Rojas was born in a ‘ranchito’, a shanty home product of bricks with a damaged zinc roof. “I come from humble beginnings. I belong to a big household, six siblings, my father, my mom… residing on just a little farm with numerous uncertainties,” Rojas mentioned.

“Due to this, I’m a special Yulimar Rojas,” she informed the Olympic Channel. “It has helped me change into a greater model of myself. The adversities helped me consider in myself and my skills. Yulimar Rojas is courageous, joyful and a dedicated individual. And, above all, I’m a warrior.”

As a child who tried volleyball and the excessive bounce earlier than deciding on the horizontal jumps, she modified her life by having the audacity to ship a message to Cuban lengthy bounce legend Ivan Pedroso on Fb, in search of assist. Pedroso, who has 4 outside and 5 indoor world titles and an Olympic gold medal to his identify, agreed instantly.

By that point, he was a resident of Spain, which opened the door for Rojas to shine her abilities in that nation, away from the political and financial hassle that plague Venezuela. Inside 4 months of starting to coach with Pedroso, she gained gold on the World Indoor Championships in Portland, in 2016.

It impressed her to work on her technical shortcomings and to speculate “absolute belief” in her new coach. “That’s after I knew that I might obtain nice issues, that I’ve expertise in these legs,” she mentioned. “From then we began, little by little, to extend my muscular power as a result of, whereas I’m very tall, I’m slim, and I discover it fairly tough to tone and improve muscle on my legs.”

Sources of motivation

Having already conquered so many peaks, two main ambitions (and a secondary one) occupy Rojas’ thoughts. She needs to interrupt the just about mystical 16m barrier and surpass her coach’s tally of Main titles (with three outside and three indoor World crowns and one Olympic gold, she trails Pedroso by one outside and two indoor titles). The 26-year-old would additionally like to attain the triple jump-long bounce double at a Main occasion, ideally the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I don’t wish to set limits for myself as an athlete, I’ve a really excessive ceiling, which is what my thoughts and coronary heart need,” she mentioned. “I used to be born to leap that distance [16m]. That is what motivates me probably the most. Nothing is unattainable. I do know that I’m shut. I really feel that I’ve it in my legs, however I would like to regulate some particulars… to have the ability to attain that prodigious and essential barrier.”

“Doing higher than the legend that’s my coach, Ivan Pedroso” is one other massive “motivation” — it’s an endeavour the coach himself may be very completely satisfied contributing to. “He is aware of I can get there. He is aware of I’ll do it,” Rojas mentioned. The coach can be on board for a critical try on the lengthy bounce. On condition that it was the self-discipline he dominated, Pedroso is aware of its technical nuances, in addition to the doable impact it might have on Rojas’ triple bounce.

“So for subsequent 12 months [2022], we plan to coach just a little extra [in the long jump] and let the outcomes converse for themselves,” Rojas mentioned final 12 months, serving discover of her want to increase her dominance throughout the horizontal jumps. The lengthy bounce was a self-discipline she pursued as a junior, so it isn’t unfamiliar. “I’m an athlete of challenges. If it was as much as me, I’d compete within the two occasions.”

Rojas’ lengthy bounce ambition suffered misfortune on the Oregon Worlds. Her qualifying leap — 6.93m, which might have taken silver on the 2019 Worlds — was adjudged by World Athletics to have been executed in footwear not permitted for the lengthy bounce. Rojas jumped in triple bounce footwear, that are allowed a most thickness of 25mm; the restrict for lengthy bounce footwear is 20mm, which invalidated the trouble. An harm prevented her from competing once more for a legitimate qualifying mark.

A triple jump-long bounce double, if she manages it, will add to her rising status as one of many defining athletes of the period. Having impressed a era of Venezuelan athletes, revived mainstream curiosity within the triple bounce and emerged as a powerful voice of the LGBTQ group, Rojas has been a trailblazer.

“Venezuela isn’t a rustic that may win plenty of medals, such because the US. However for the few that we do have, the sensation we maintain pricey in our hearts,” she mentioned.

“My orientation has at all times been essential to me and to my profession. I’ve at all times tried to battle for the ideologies and rights of girls and the LGBT group,” Rojas mentioned in an interview with El Pais. “It’s also a leap for love and life to be revered, the will to like and to be liked is revered, and human rights to be valued daily. There might be a time when the connection between folks of the identical intercourse might be extra revered right here in my nation.”


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