Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas went to Tokyo as the odds-on favorite to win the triple jump at the Olympics. And that’s exactly what she did — setting a new record along the way.
Rojas hopped, skipped and jumped to Olympic gold, while smashing a world record that was set two months before she was born. Her effort of 15.67 meters (51 feet, 4.93 inches) broke the record of 15.50 meters set by the first women’s world champion in the event, Inessa Kravets of Ukraine (August 1995).
After her historic effort, Rojas leaped out of the pit when she realized how far she had flown. The 2020 Outsports LGBTQ Female Athlete of the Year is the first woman to clear the 51-foot barrier in the triple jump.
From the start, Rojas sent a message that nothing less than gold would do. Her mark of 15.41 meters set a standard the rest of the field couldn’t reach.
At 25 years old, Rojas has been South American champ, Pan-Am Games champ, world indoor champ, and world outdoor champ. She won silver in Rio, leaving Olympic gold as the only blank spot on her formidable resume.
There were other impressive showings: silver medalist Patricia Mamona of Portugal jumped 15.01 meters, and set a new Portuguese national record. Bronze medalist Ana Peleteiro of Spain jumped 14.87 meters, also breaking her country’s record for the event.
But the rest of the field couldn’t get close to Rojas. She fouled twice in the final four jumps, and managed a 15.25- meter effort in her fourth attempt leading up to her final effort.
It was a leap for the ages.