August 24, 2015 / 2:30 PM / 4 years ago

Salsa-dancing Ibarguen waltzes to triple jump gold

BEIJING (Reuters) - Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen extended her unbeaten streak to 29 finals on Monday as she retained her women’s triple jump world title after dominating the event.

Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia presents her gold medal after winning the women's triple jump event during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

The 31-year-old has reigned supreme since her last defeat, when she took the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Ibarguen led from the second round and her fourth-round effort of 14.90 meters secured the title emphatically.

The silver medal was won by Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko, who set an Israeli national record with her 14.78m second-round effort.

Olga Rypakova, Kazakhstan’s Olympic champion, snatched the bronze medal in the final round, as she stretched out to a season’s best 14.77m.

Ibarguen enchanted the packed crowd on the far side of the Bird’s Nest Stadium, the colorful character engaging the fans as she relaxed into her task once she outjumped Knyazyeva-Minenko’s best effort with 14.80 to take the lead in the second round.

The Bird’s Nest’s fast track surface had caused the men long jumpers problems in measuring run-ups in the morning session and, while there were no such problems for the women jumpers, some struggled to control their approach speed into horizontal distance.

Try as they might, Ibarguen’s rivals could not outjump the Salsa-dancing nurse from Colombia.

Ekaterina Koneva, the Russian thought to be the champion’s biggest threat, was disappointing all night, never managing more than 14.37, which placed her seventh.

Bulgaria’s Gabriela Petrova leapt to a personal best of 14.66 in the fifth round to stake a claim to the bronze until cruelly denied by Rypakova’s final effort.

Rypakova, who took a year out after her Olympic gold and gave birth to a son, Kirill in 2013, said she was “overwhelmed” to win a medal. “I didn’t hope for a medal here. My performance was great, the best I could have done.”

Knyazyeva-Minenko’s silver is only the third medal to be won at the worlds by Israel since 1983. The 25-year-old had previously competed for Ukraine, having finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic final.

“Everybody in Israel was watching this event and hoping for the first female medal at the world championships,” she said. “I cannot describe how emotional this moment is.”

Ibarguen, too, said she has “a big joy to make my country happy. I am very satisfied and very happy,” she said. “All my work was aimed at this medal. I love triple jump.”

Writing by Steven Downes; Editing by Tony Jimenez and Ken Ferris

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