Updated 28 February 2008
Yamilé ALDAMA, Sudan (Triple Jump)
Born 14 August 1972, Havana; 1.73m / 62 kg.
Based in London. Represents Sudan (citizen since January 2004).
Married to Andrew Dodds. Child Amil born 2001.
Coach: Frank Attoh
Sixth of seven children (four boys, three girls)
Yamilé Aldama, a former Cuban, now a Sudanese, is one of several formidable African women in the triple jump. For a continent more accustomed to exporting athletic talent than importing it, she is a welcome addition
Aldama started competitive athletics in primary school at the age of 12. Two of her brothers participated in boxing and wrestling. She soon entered a sports school, where she proved to be a good high jumper and her first international success came in the 1988 Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships, in Nassau, Bahamas, where she won high jump gold.
Thinking she was not tall enough for the high jump, Aldama tried the heptathlon for two seasons, winning the event at the 1993 Barrientos Memorial and improving her high jump PB to 1.88. But women's triple jumping had been introduced in Cuba in 1991 and Aldama tried it in 1994, jumping 13.92m.
Two years later, Aldama gained her first international success in the event, winning gold (14.39) at the 1996 Ibero-American Championships in Medellin, Colombia. Later that year she leapt 14.43 and made the Olympic team for Atlanta but was unable to participate because of injury.
In 1997 Aldama claimed her first national triple jump title and finished 6th at the World Indoor Championships in Paris (14.28). She also took the silver medal (14.12) at the Central American and Caribbean Championships in San Juan. However, she did not qualify for the outdoor World Championships final in Athens (14.09).
More victories followed in 1998. She reached 14.55, just 0.05m short of the national record, and successfully defended her Ibero-American title in Lisbon (14.07). She also won gold (14.34) in the inaugural women’s triple jump in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Maracaibo, Venezuela, going on to finish 3rd (14.29) at the 1998 World Cup in Johannesburg.
Aldama’s breakthrough came in 1999. After finishing 7th at the World Indoor Championships in Maebashi, Japan (14.47), she equalled the national record (14.60) in claiming her third national title in May and improved the record to 14.77 in winning the Pan American Games in Winnipeg two months later. In August, she took the silver medal (14.61) at the World Championships in Seville but did not improve in the Olympic year, although she finished a respectable 4th in Sydney (14.30).
A few indoor meetings (13.95 best) in 2001 preceded a maternity break. Aldama married Andrew Dodds, a Scotsman, and moved to London, where she gave birth to Amil in September. Unable to represent Cuba, as she was based abroad, she hoped to compete for Britain in 2003, but a three-year waiting period meant she could not gain a passport in time to compete in the World Championships or Olympic Games. Come 2004 she would switch to Sudan.
In the meantime, in 2003, after a period of training in Havana, Aldama topped the 15 metres mark for the first time, in Ostrava in June, becoming the first non-European and 11th woman to do so. Having accomplished it once, she managed it four more times in the next four weeks, winning Golden League meetings in Oslo and Rome, where she recorded a PB 15.29 to claim the No.3 spot on the all-time list and No2 in the IAAF World Rankings.
Backing up the 15.29 with a 15.27 win in London in August, but unable to participate in the World Championships in Paris, Aldama ended her season with 2nd place at the World Athletics Final in Monaco (14.99). In all, she recorded 13 marks in the 2003 outdoor season, 10 at 14.98 or better.
In January 2004, Aldama gained a Sudanese passport and was free to compete in international competitions once again. At the World Indoor Championships, in Budapest, she set an African record of 14.90 in the second round to claim the silver medal, behind Russia's Tatyana Lebedeva. Outdoors, Aldama improved the continental standard to 15.21 in Rethymno, Greece, in June, won the African Championship in Brazzaville in July (14.90), and extended the African record again (15.28) in Linz, Austria, on August 2.
Aldama, still not 100 per cent fit, insisted after her jump in Linz that she could have broken the world record, which stands at 15.50m, set 12 years ago by Inessa Kravets, from Ukraine, when winning the World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. "I'm still lacking in speed because I've been troubled with a hamstring injury in my right take-off leg,” Aldama had said in Linz, “It's not fully recovered, but tonight I felt no ill effects. I'm sure it is going to be alright at the Olympic Games."
Famous last words. In swirling winds on the day of the final, many jumpers had trouble hitting the board. In the second round, to avoid fouling, Aldama popped a 14.90 jump from about 30cm behind the board and improved to 14.99 in the fourth round, which briefly put her in medal territory. But, going for broke in the fifth round, she suddenly aborted her jump, clutching her hamstring, and that was that. She wound up a frustrated 5th and closed the season with third place at the World Athletics Final in Monaco.
Aldama missed out on a podium place at the 2005 World Championships, in Helsinki, by just 11cm to her former countrywoman, Yargelis Savigne. She closed 2005 with a best of 14.82, the first time in three years that she had finished a season under 15 metres.
Aldama started the 2006 season with her second consecutive medal at the World Indoor Championships, this time bronze in Moscow, with a season’s best of 14.86. Outdoors, she successfully defended her African title, in Mauritius, and then improved to 14.67 for third spot at the 2006 World Athletics Final in Stuttgart. A week later, she sealed the season with a year of best of 14.78 and repeated her 1998 third-place finish from Johannesburg at the World Cup in Athens.
Aldama has been busy taking care of her six-year old boy and did not compete that often in 2007. As a preparation for Osaka, she claimed her first All Africa Games crown in Algiers. However, in the Japanese city she produced a poor 13.46 and could not qualify to in the final.
At the end of the season, Aldama competed in the Pan Aran Games, in Cairo, winning two silver medals in events other than “her” triple jump, which she had entered to help her adoptive country increase its medal tally.
In a team whose brightest star was young 800m runner Abubaker Kaki, one of the four athletes to achieve double gold in Cairo, Aldama had to be content with double silver in the long jump (6.05) and high jump (1.77, the same height as the winner).
Indoors in 2008, she has only competed once this winter, when third (14.20) at the SEAT meeting in Paris. However, she knows when to peak at the right time and, in Valencia, looks forward to her third consecutive World Indoor Championships medal. Valencia will be her fifth World Indoor Championships.
Triple jump: 15.29 (2003), 14.90i (2004)
2000- 14.47; 2001-13.85i; 2002-14.40/14.54w; 2003-15.29 AR; 2004-15.28/14.90i;
2005 - 14.82; 2006-14.86i / 14.67; 2007-14.58; 2008-14.20i.
1996 1st Ibero-American Championships
1997 6th World Indoor Championships
1998 1st Ibero-American Championships
1998 1st Central American and Caribbean Games
1998 3rd World Cup, Johannesburg
1999 7th World Indoor Championships
1999 1st Pan American Games
1999 2nd World Championships
2000 4th Olympic Games
2003 2nd World Athletics Final
2004 2nd World Indoor Championships
2004 2nd World Indoor Championships
2004 1st African Championships
2004 5th Olympic Games
2004 3rd World Athletics Final
2005 4th World Championships
2005 6th World Athletics Final
2006 3rd World Indoor Championships
2006 1st African Championships
2006 3rd World Athletics Final
2006 3rd World Cup
2007 1st All Africa Games
Prepared by Chris Robinson for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008.