Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan on her way to winning gold in the Triple Jump final (Getty Images) © Copyright
Already the surprise winner of the gold, the 25-year-old from Kazakhstan capped a fierce dual with defending champion Yargeris Savigne with a massive 15.14m leap in the final round, an effort which catapulted the 25-year-old all the way to the No. 3 position of all time. Rypakova showed her big meet mettle at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing where she leaped 15.11m, but few could honestly admit that they saw this performance coming.
“This is a perfect feeling, to become World champion,” said Rypakova, who has won numerous indoor and outdoor Asian titles in both the jumps and multi events. But after some near misses – fourth in Beijing, fourth at the World indoors in 2008 – she finally snatched her first major international medal.
“This is the outcome of perfect training. I wasn’t nervous, I’m experienced enough.”
Savigne, also the reigning champion outdoors, was clearly the woman to beat here this weekend, arriving in Doha dominating the season’s performance list. As expected she set the tone from the outset with a 14.71m first round leap, nearly 30 centimetres farther than any other woman had leaped this year. Nobody was remotely close as the round came to an end, but before the next round was concluded, Rypakova would make her intentions clear. Opening with a foul, Rypakova reached 14.78m, an indoor PB by 20 centimetres to wrestle the lead from the Cuban, setting the stage for an unexpected battle as the competition wore on.
The jump clearly put the pressure on Savigne, who responded with a foul in round three. In the fourth round, Savigne nailed a modest 14.45m while Rypakova fouled. The Cuban rose to the occasion in the penultimate round, reacing 14.86m, a season’s best, to retake command.
But it didn’t last long. Rypakova responded immediately with another indoor career best of 14.93m to take back the lead and threaten the 15-metre barrier. Savigne could muster no more in the final round, barely hitting the board and sailing just 14.63m. The gold, and one last jump was Rypakova’s.
With the pressure gone, Rypakova again responded by sailing well beyond the 15-metre line. Only two women – World record holder Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia at 15.36m and Briton Ashia Hansen at 15.16m – have ever flown farther indoors.
“This was not what I expected,” said Savigne, who was aiming to join both Lebedeva and Hansen as a two-time champion. “I thought 14.86 would be sufficient, but I was proven wrong.” She also saw her 14-meeting win streak, one which dates to the Beijing Olympic final where she finished a disappointed fifth, come to an end.
Anna Pyatykh of Russia reached 14.64m, a season’s best, in the third round to win her second World indoor medal (she won a silver in 2006), but this time bronze.
“I came here to win a medal and I did it,” said Pyatykh, who also had a pair of World indoor fourth place finishes to her credit. Acknowledging the strength of her competitors, Pyatykh added, “I’m happy with the bronze. I knew that I am No. 3.”
The leap off the podium was wide. Russian Anastasiya Taranova-Potapova was a distant fourth with a 14.40m best, and Cuban Mabel Gay fifth at 14.30m.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF