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World Champs Women’s TJ — Rojas Rescues Self

World Champs Women’s TJ — Rojas Rescues Self

Never before at a World Championships, outdoors or in, had Yulimar Rojas reached round 6 not in the lead. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

WORLD RECORDHOLDER Yulimar Rojas came into the meet as the unquestioned favorite to capture her fourth consecutive world title. In Wednesday’s qualifying, the Venezuelan Olympic gold medalist needed just one jump, 47-10½ (14.59), to surpass the auto-Q line, as did Jamaica’s 2-time WC silver medalist Shanieka Ricketts, who had the leading mark at 48-1¾ (14.67). Other autos included Dominica’s Thea LaFond, Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, Cubans Leyanis Pérez and Liadagmis Povea, Keturah Orji from the USA and 34-year-old Jamaican Kim Williams.

Americans Jasmine Moore and Oregon22 bronze medalist Tori Franklin also advanced.

Bekh-Romanchuk (formchart No. 3) took the lead in round 1 by impressing all with a season best 49-2½ (15.00). The Ukrainian’s leap was just the sixth at or above the 15-meter barrier this year. She was followed in the jump order by Pérez (formchart No. 2), who came close with 49-1 (14.96).

With Rojas fouling, Ricketts (48-8¼/14.84), LaFond (48-3¼/14.71), Dariya Derkach (47-1½/14.36) and Orji rounded out the top 6. The American’s 47-¼ (14.33) would play a pivotal role in the outcome.

The significant consequence resulting from round 2 was that Orji fouled, and then Rojas matched her 47-¼ (14.33), leaving the pair tied for 7th, but still in the top 8.

Then in round 3, Orji fouled, putting herself in a tenuous position, as Williams’ 47-2¼ (14.38) bumped her to 8th, with Rojas yet to jump in the frame.

As fate would have it, a pumped-up Rojas got it together and managed 46-9½ (14.26), breaking the stalemate with Orji for the eighth and final position that would earn 3 more jumps.

In round 4, Povea moved from 5th to 4th, but no one else improved and a Rojas foul left her in 8th.

In round 5 LaFond did reclaim her 4th from Povea, yet a perplexed Rojas fouled again, leaving herself 8th against Bekh-Romanchuk, Pérez, Ricketts and everyone else if she were to gain a spot on the podium.

Per usual, the 8th placer starts the final round, and in this instance that was Rojas, who had never been in a position like this in her World Championships career.

After giving herself a final pep talk, Rojas charged down the runway and stretched out to 49-5¾ (15.08) to take the lead, but there were still 7 jumpers who had a chance to claim gold — although none with PRs as long as the…

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