BUDAPEST, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Yaroslava Mahuchikh sailed to victory in the women’s high jump for Ukraine’s lone gold medal of the World Athletics Championships, a remarkable achievement in a season disrupted by the war in her homeland.
The 21-year-old, who was forced to flee her home town of Dnipro, cleared 2.01 metres for her first world outdoor title after a pair of second-place finishes.
The bronze medallist at the Tokyo Olympics, the last athlete competing on Sunday, missed on three attempts at 2.07 before taking an emotional bow.
“I am so proud to win this gold for my country,” said Mahuchikh, her blue and yellow eye make-up matching the colours of the Ukraine flag. “I can’t wait to go back and show this medal to my coach.”
Eleanor Patterson, who arrived in Budapest with the world number one ranking, cleared 1.99m for silver, while Australia team mate Nicola Olyslagers also posted 1.99m, but took third on the countback.
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe spoke earlier on Sunday about the difficulties facing Ukraine athletes, who have been forced to live and train abroad after Russia’s invasion in February 2022, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.
Mahuchikh, who has been training in Germany among other countries and has not been back to Dnipro, won the world indoor title in 2022, dedicating that gold to Ukraine.
“This medal is for Ukraine, all my country, all my people, all the military,” she told reporters then. “I must protect our country on the track in an international arena.”
Coe said the situation “makes me choke” and reiterated that he would not be changing his views on Russia and Belarus, a key staging area for the invasion, “anytime soon”.
Both countries are banned from athletics competitions.
“I’ve been an athlete, I was able to prepare in the safety and security of my home city. I was able when I needed to to travel abroad,” Coe said at the championships’ closing press conference.
“I cannot imagine what it must be like for athletes in Ukraine, to be dealing with this landscape. It’s an intolerable situation.”