With so many athletes sidelined by the pandemic in 2020, Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas had a career year. She set the indoor world record for the triple jump in February and became only the second woman ever to record two career jumps of over 15.4 meters.
Rojas set a new world indoor record for the women’s triple jump at 15.43 meters (that’s about 15 feet, 7 1/4 inches) at the final meet of last season’s World Athletics Indoor Tour, held last February in Madrid.
She was also named World Athletics Female Athlete of the Year. Rojas is the first Venezuelan to receive the prestigious honor. You can watch the teary moment she found out she had won that award:
"The truth is I did not expect this, sorry but I really can't believe it."— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) December 5, 2020
Congratulations @TeamRojas45, Female World Athlete of the Year✨ pic.twitter.com/RICi8inZMe
The triple jump, in case you’re not familiar with the track and field event, is a hop, skip and a jump. Literally. As a former triple jumper myself, I can tell you it’s not easy to master the technical aspects of each component. Understatement: Rojas has done just that.
You can watch her record-setting jump on YouTube. The excitement of the announcers — who know right away that it’s a world record — is great. The previous record had stood for 16 years. Her jump was only 7 centimeters (less than 3 inches) from the overall world record, set outdoors in 1995.
Accentuating the importance of her athletic accomplishments is the fact that she’s publicly out in Venezuela, which she represents on an international stage. Same-sex relationships are not recognized in the country, and she is regarded as a trailblazing lesbian in the country.
All of that makes Rojas Outsports’ Female Athlete Of The Year.
Even before 2020, Rojas has had a stellar career, winning two world championships in 2017 and 2019, as well as a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
She will be a favorite to win gold next summer in Tokyo.
Sue Bird — The 11-time WNBA All-Star won her fourth league title, tied for most by a single player in WNBA history. Bird was also a ray of light during the initial pandemic lockdown, along with fiancée Megan Rapinoe posting fun videos to put a smile on people’s faces.
Nyla Rose — In February, Rose won the AEW Women’s World Championship, becoming the first trans woman to win a world title in a major U.S. wrestling promotion. She successfully defended her title before losing it to Hikaru Shida in the spring.
Follow Yulimar Rojas (@yulimarrojas45) on Instagram by clicking here. Click here to follow Sue Bird (@sbird10) on Instagram and follow Nyla Rose (@nylarosebeast) by clicking here.
Outsports is unveiling the 2020 honorees every day through Wednesday, Dec. 30.
Prior Female Hero Of The Year winners:
2019: CeCé Telfer
2018: Sue Bird
2017: Seimone Augustus
2016: Nicola Adams
2015: Abby Wamback and Megan Rapinoe
2014: Brittney Griner
Outsports has divided year-end Athlete and Hero awards to highlight accomplishments of people across genders. We understand that not everyone fits into the binary gender world currently established in sports, and we honor that identity with the Non-Binary Award.