In an Olympic tuneup, Ukraine’s top high jumper breaks the 37-year-old world record

PARIS (AP) — Ukraine’s best high jumper captured a world record on Sunday to go with her world championship, and now she has a good reason to think she might bring home an Olympic gold medal to her war-torn country.

Yaroslava Mahuchikh erased a mark that had stood for 37 years at a Diamond League meet in Paris, jumping 2.10 meters (6.88 feet) in one of the last big tuneups leading into the Olympics.

The previous record of 2.09 was set by Bulgaria’s Stefka Kostadinova in Rome in 1987.

“Coming into this competition, I had feelings that I could jump 2.07 meters and maybe 2.10 meters,” Mahuchikh said. “Finally I signed Ukraine to the history of world athletics.”

The 22-year-old Mahuchikh and world indoor champion Nicola Olyaslagers both cleared 2.01 meters on their second attempt. After Olyslagers failed three times at 2.03, Mahuchikh cleared that height to secure victory.

She then cleared 2.07 meters to set a Ukrainian record and had the bar raised to 2.10, which she cleared on her first try.

Mahuchikh left her hometown of Dnipro shortly after the war with Russia began. Like virtually all elite athletes in her country, she has been training in foreign countries while keeping tabs on the war back home. She has been outspoken about the role Ukrainian sports can play to give signs of hope to those fighting for Ukraine’s survival.

“We all are fighting for our people, for our soldiers,” she said last month after defending her European title. “We want to show every person in the world that we will continue fighting, that war in Ukraine it’s not finished, unfortunately. We should fight in every field to show that Ukraine is strongest.”

World Athletics, which runs track on a global basis, has banned all Russian athletes from next month’s Olympic track meet, a decision Mahuchikh agrees with.

Just last weekend, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe visited Kyiv and reiterated his support for the Ukrainian effort in the war.

“Nothing I witnessed tells me that the decision we’ve taken is anything other than the right decision, but the right decision on behalf of our sport,” Coe said.


AP Olympics:

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