Since 2012, Caterine Ibarguen has turned the triple jump into a discipline of four elements: hop, step, jump, win.
Last beaten at the 2012 Olympics, she has since collected two world titles and at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome on Thursday (2) she extended her winning run to 34 competitions.
It’s not that the Colombian has had it easy.
Last month, Venezuela’s world indoor champion Yulimar Rojas pushed her close to defeat at the opening IAAF Diamond League meeting of the summer in Doha.
On this occasion she was headed after two rounds by the last woman to beat her, Kazakhstan’s Olympic champion Olga Rypakova, who had reached 14.51m.
It was good, but not good enough though, as Ibarguen responded in the next round with 14.64m, and extended her lead with an exuberantly celebrated final effort of 14.78m.
Rypakova settled for second ahead of Jamaica’s Shanieka Thomas, who rjumped 14.46m.
“I am very satisfied,” said Ibarguen. “I had to fight in the third jump to take the victory. I am focused on the Olympics, I won a silver medal in London and this year I will give anything to take the gold.”
South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk may be able to run 100m in under 10 seconds and 200m in under 20 seconds, but he is in no hurry to switch his attentions from the distance at which he became world champion last year, the 400m.
Despite a determined effort by Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, who conceded the African record to Van Niekerk last year, there was no holding the man who emerged to the forefront of one-lap running last season as he crossed first in 44.19, just 0.08 away from his season's best set at altitude on home soil last month.
Once again, just like in Rabat, Makwala paid for his early audacious efforts in the final 50 metres, slipping to third place in 44.85 as Grenada’s Bralon Taplin came through with a late surge to take second place in 44.43.
“It took me a while to recover after that race,” said Van Niekerk. “It was a challenge but I am glad I won. It is a good start to build up to the rest of the Olympic season.”
Rutherford taking big steps towards Rio
Greg Rutherford, the Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth champion, rose to the challenge once again to maintain his unbeaten start to the season, which indeed he had described the day before as his best ever start.
The Briton won the competition with his second effort of 8.31m, his best of the year so far, finishing respectably well clear of US world leader Marquise Goodwin, who had a best of 8.19m.
“That was not bad,” said Rutherford. “A hugely important step towards the European Championships and the Olympics.”
Cuba’s world champion Yarisley Silva equalled her season’s best of 4.60m in the women’s pole vault, but it was only enough for third place behind two Greek vaulters, Ekaterini Stefanidi and Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou, who both cleared 4.75m, with Stefanidi earning the win on countback.
The men’s 1500m went to Kenya’s Elijah Manangoi in 3:33.96 from compatriot Robert Biwott, second in 3:34.21, ahead of Australia’s Ryan Gregson, who clocked 3:34.27.
On a night that was a little too cool to be ideal for sprinting, Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson produced a season’s best of 10.87 to earn the 10 Diamond Race points in the women’s 100m, with USA’s English Gardner in close pursuit but finishing second in 10.92.
In a race without the unbeaten Jamaican and Diamond Race leader Omar McLeod, Spain's Orlando Ortega won the men's 110m hurdles in 13.22.
USA’s Ameer Webb took the maximum points in the men’s 200m when winning in 20.04, coming home ahead Canada’s Aaron Brown, who was second in 20.24 with Panama’s 2015 Diamond Race winner Alonso Edward third in 20.25.
Webb had a profitable night as he doubled up in the non-Diamond Race 100m and finished second in a personal best of 9.94, with Justin Gatlin winning in 9.93.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF