“I’m a little girl, that’s how I enjoy myself, like a girl,” says Yulimar Rojas, a uniquely talented athlete, almost science fiction, before taking the triple jump on a mind-blowing journey to a new dimension. To a space where only she lives, a girl from Barcelona, Venezuela, who was moved one day in front of the television watching Teddy Tamgho win a World Cup and decided, without doubts, without more, to be like him, like that French , so far away, that it gave three boats and flew, and the stadium was excited, and she wanted to feel that emotion, that it would sink to the bones. It is gold in Tokyo, and a world record with 15.67 in a test in which the Galician Ana Peleteiro is bronze.
At the age of 25, Yulimar claims for himself that emotion in an empty and warm stadium because in Tokyo it is the heat of his land, and its humidity, and not a charitable breeze lightens him, but he feels in his street, a girl, and Serie. “This is my land,” he says. “Hot and humid.” In his first jump, 15.41 meters, he beats the Olympic record as doing so, snapping his fingers, like a magician, so easily makes a fluid and powerful run appear out of nowhere, wide steps, of more than 2.70 meters at the final, and he does not lose an iota of speed when, securely supported, at the end of the corridor, before the board, he takes a bounce, a step, a jump.
It rises, flies, lengthens its endless body, its long legs, its 1.92m graceful, elegant, and as flexible, as fine as a riverbank reed. 17 steps and five, five, five. This is how a champion plays in an Olympic final, who wins the first time and has five to finish the process, the method that she also says, like the music school of her country and Gustavo Dudamel, and makes two record nulls, and refines , and refines, and Iván Pedroso, from the stands, advises and advises, with his gestures, with his hands, with his arms, a conductor with two soloists from his conservatory in Guadalajara.
And in the sixth, the explosion. The perfection. Whipped 2.6 centimeters from the clay, long hop, short step, very long jump that reaches up to 15.67 meters, an unexplored territory, another world, another dimension. The record of the records, 17 centimeters more, in a single stroke, than the 15.50 that Inessa Kravets, a Ukrainian, set in Gothenburg in 1995, two months before the woman destined to erase it was born as far away as in Venezuela. “But I’m the same girl,” she repeats, “who got wet at the little ranch [vivienda humilde] from Pozuelos, in Venezuela, the girl who was also scared by storms, in the house that was moving, which was soaked in rain ”, she says. And now look. I am a consecrated Yulimar Rojas here in Tokyo, an example of the power of struggle and perseverance. And, wow, I have come to live this moment that to describe it the word is magical. And I have confirmed my power, in which I have always believed, in my great quality as an athlete ”.
And like Ana Peleteiro, his soloist companion in the Afro-Cuban school that the champion Pedroso established in the Spanish city that was the most comfortable for his wife, an airline stewardess, near Barajas airport, she began to cry after resisting with a bout of hyperventilation the urge, and then it was a fountain. Like Peleteiro, her friend.
For Rojas, a girl, a game. For the others, a matter of extreme intensity, life or death, almost. A triple contest like a long time ago was not seen, so extraordinary. Because Peleteiro also had reasons to cry with emotion. Determined to follow the path of greatness, stubborn as only she can be, the Galician athlete, also 25 years old, also African blood, became hooked and grew, and jumped in her first Olympic final as she had never done before in all her life. Competing as the gladiator who announced she would be, and was not joking, as if the sand pit were the arena of the Colosseum in Rome, Peleteiro needed to beat Spain’s record twice (14.77m in the second jump; 14.87m, one world-class brand, in the fifth, very short race, and, before, in the words of the Galician, “I hit two hosts in the face and the jump came out”) to quell the danger of the Jamaican Shanieka Ricketts, the medalist of silver in Doha. Peleteiro finished third, with bronze, and it was not second, silver, because for the Portuguese Patricia Mamona the Tokyo track, Yulimar Rojas’ invitation to all the triplists in the world to follow her in her exploration of the afterlife was also the signal: she jumped 15.01m, a record for Portugal, and came second, the closest to the great Venezuelan.
Rojas, like the musicians of Dudamel, puts the flag of his country on his back, like a tracksuit, and gathers his tears and the emotion he was looking for, and that he found in an empty and warm stadium, with those of Peleteiro, also wrapped on your flag. The Spanish athlete was unstoppable in 2012, junior world champion, and after much searching, and after getting lost in the labyrinths of life, she was reunited in Guadalajara in 2017 with the life she loves, with the Portuguese jumper Nelson Évora and with the teacher Pedroso, manufacturer of champions. “And,” says Peleteiro, who does not control emotion even in press conferences. “I was in the shit and Iván took me out.”
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.