Although only two athletes have cleared the elite benchmark 15 metres barrier this season, the women’s Triple Jump is expected to be a much more exciting contest than it actually looks on paper.
Yargelis Savigne who hasn’t missed out on a major championships medal since her appearance on the international circuit back in 2005 and is the reigning World Indoor and Outdoor champion will have a slight advantage as her competitiveness edge when it matters most has never failed her. The Cuban is the only athlete to have jumped over 15m more than once this summer with a 15.20m peak in Rethymno.
Savigne’s most consistent rival, Greece’s Hrysopiyi Devetzi who leads the world lists at 15.22m certainly hasn’t forgotten how she “lost” the gold medal her whole nation was hoping for by a mere 5 centimetres in the very last round of the Athens Olympic Games. A silver medallist in Valencia and a bronze medallist in Osaka, Devetzi has yet to win a major gold and one can expect the Greek to do her utmost best not to let this last chance elude her.
Fittingly, Beijing will mark the return to the fore of defending Olympic champion Françoise Mbango Etone after the Cameroonian took two sabbatical years to give birth to her first child. Not only has Mbango returned to the international scene this year, she has done it in style with the third best on the world season’s list at 14.95m proving that she is capable of defending her title.
However she will have another tough rival in defending European champion Tatyana Lebedeva who, despite an unbelievable resume at the event including two World titles, two World Indoor titles and the World Indoor record at 15.36m, has yet to win an Olympic Triple Jump gold. Third in Athens and runner-up in Sydney, Beijing’s gold will be just the perfect coronation for the 2005 Golden League Jackpot winner.
The best of the rest is led by Lebedeva’s compatriot Anna Pyatykh, a bronze medallist at the Helsinki World Championships, and Valencia third place finisher Marija Sestak of Slovenia. Both Pyatykh and Sestak have the necessary experience to rise to the occasion and upset any of the top four in the event.
Sudan’s Yamilé Aldama and Italy’s Magdelin Martinez, who were both born in Cuba, have competed slightly below par in the early part of the season but again their experience in international competitions may be sufficient for them to advance to the final. And as everyone knows, in an Olympic final anything can happen….
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF