Cuban athlete Yargelis Savigne arrived at the 11th World Athletics Championship with great hopes but only a few gave her a real chance to win the triple jump gold in Osaka, Japan.
Being a long jump and triple jump specialist and with previous experience at high level competitions, Yargelis declined to participate in the long jump so she could focus completely on the triple jump.
Destiny rewarded her for her smart decision when she won the gold medal on Thursday August 23 to the astonishment of many. She was able to surpass two of her strongest rivals, one of them the great Russian athlete Tatyana Lebedeva, two-time World champion.
A ﬁrst jump of 15.28 m surprised her competitors and placed her very close to victory, even with most of the ﬁnal competition still left to be decided.
“I was not expecting that. I did not even feel that jump,” said Savigne afterwards.
About her feelings regarding the presence of the great Lebedeva, she confessed that she felt no fear “because Lebedeva had already jumped in the long jump and was tired. She might have jumped 15 m but it would have been 15 m and only a little something, never over my 15.28 m.”
The Russian athlete would jump 15.07 m and win the silver medal. She stated that she was surprised at the performance of her Caribbean adversary and congratulated her for the excellent result.
With this achievement Savigne beat her former national record of 15.09 m recorded some weeks ago during a competition in Europe.
The brilliant result gave her so much conﬁdence that after the end of the ﬁnal she stated that she had thought about breaking the world record of 15.50 m established by Ukrainian Inessa Kravets in 1995.
Although she could not break it during the World Championship she said that “I want to leave that for the Olympics. I want to be even better prepared this year.”
Some days later during another event at the Grand Prix in the Italian city of Rieti, the 22-year-old athlete showed she had grown somewhat accustomed to beating Lebedeva with a jump of 14.92 m versus her rival's 14.75 m.
A few weeks before the Worlds, Savigne had won the gold medal at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro and established a new continental record with a jump of 14.80 m.
Her performance in Rio was complemented by a long jump bronze medal coming behind locals Maurren Higa Maggi and Keila Costa.
Yargelis Savigne Herrera was born on November 13, 1984 in the municipality of Niceto Pérez, some 10 km from the city of Guantánamo in the easternmost province of Cuba. She was the oldest of four children with no history of athletic talent in her immediate family.
Savigne took up sports in school at the age of 11 and was promoted to a Sports School on the outskirts of Guantánamo. She was a sprinter initially, but she preferred the jumping events. By 1997 she started to learn the triple and the long jumps.
After a normal period of development, she started competing with the Junior National Team in 2001. She was fully dedicated to the long jump and after two seasons, she showed great progress early in 2003 and broke the national junior record with a leap of 6.63 m.
Savigne made her senior debut at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo where she took the bronze medal with a long jump of 6.40 m.
2005 was Sevigne’s breakthrough year when she improved her personal best to 6.77 m in the long jump in Havana. There was a shortage of long jump competitions on the European circuit so her coach Milán Matos urged her to try the triple.
The experiment proved wildly successful and after some wins, Matos saw his pupil winning the silver medal at the World Championship held during that summer in Helsinki.
After two years of competition, the triple jump has proven to be her best event. At such a young age, it seems that her sponing life still has some glorious chapters to be written and we all look forward to seeing her at the Beijing Olympics.