Sunday, March 3, 2024

World Athletics: Ukraine’s Mahuchikh wins gold, Dutch ‘steal’ women’s relay | Athletics News

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Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh earned her war-afflicted country its first gold medal at the World Athletics Championships when she won the women’s high jump in Budapest.

Mahuchikh, who fled the Russian bombardment of her native city of Dnipro last year, managed a best of 2.01m for gold on Sunday.

Defending champion Eleanor Patterson took silver with a best of 1.99m on countback from Australian teammate Nicola Olyslagers.

“I am so proud to win this gold for my country. I can’t wait to go back and show this medal to my coach,” said Mahuchikh.

“I [had] to win this gold for my country and all Ukrainian people who are still fighting for peace in Ukraine and for our independence.

“Thanks to them we have this unique possibility to compete at the international arena and to raise our flag.”

The 21-year-old missed out on gold at last year’s World Championships in Eugene, losing to Patterson on countback, the same result she achieved in Doha in 2019.

Because of the war, the Ukrainian had to make a six-day car journey to Belgrade last year where she added the world indoor high jump title to those two world silvers and Olympic bronze she had already collected.

“I have been one of the best woman high jumpers over the last few years and I badly wanted to become the best in the world officially. Before every single one of my jumps tonight I said to myself that I have to win gold. Only gold.

“Tomorrow we will start the next stage of our preparation. I am looking forward to get another title from the Olympics in Paris.”

Mahuchikh’s gold on Sunday was Ukraine’s second medal of the championships after Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk claimed silver in the women’s triple jump.

Bol’s stunning run steals gold

In a come-from-behind victory for the ages, Femke Bol of the Netherlands closed the championships by overcoming a 20-metre deficit down the stretch to finish first in the women’s 4×400 metre relay.

It was the last race of the nine-day track meet and it more than made up for a slip-up on opening night by the country’s biggest sprinting and hurdles talent. In that one, she was cruising for what looked like a sure medal when she fell at the finish line in the mixed 4×400 relay.

Femke Bol of the Netherlands starts the anchor leg on her way to the gold medal [Petr David Josek/AP Photo]

There was no medal that night, and all signs pointed toward a third-place finish when Bol received the baton to run the last lap on Sunday.

With 300 metres to go, Bol wasn’t in the same camera frame with the two leaders, Jamaica’s Stacey Ann Williams and Britain’s Nicole Yeargin.

With half a lap to go, Bol was five steps behind Yeargin.

With 100 metres left, her teammates were excited about the prospect of finishing third.

“To be honest, I was already happy with a bronze medal,” said Cathelijn Peeters, who ran the third leg.

Bol wasn’t having it.

“I wanted to stay patient,” Bol said, “but in the last metres I said, ‘No, we have to take it.’”

The 23-year-old said her motivation for kicking it into overdrive was simple: “It’s your team,” Bol said. “I mean, I was tired. My body didn’t feel so well, but you have people before you running and they are going so deep.”

In a finish that prompted race commentators to say “Femke Bol has stolen the last gold for the Netherlands”, Femke left her teammates and spectators looking on in disbelief.

The championships ended with the United States leading the medals table with 29 medals (12 gold), ahead of Canada, Spain, Jamaica and Kenya.

 



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