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Mahuchikh delivers Ukraine world gold
Published on: Tuesday, August 29, 2023
By: AFP
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Mahuchikh delivers Ukraine world gold
BUDAPEST: Yaroslava Mahuchikh (pic) delivered an emotional end to the World Athletics Championships by securing war-afflicted Ukraine’s first gold medal of the event whilst Jakob Ingebrigtsen showed huge character to retain his 5000m title.

An engrossing final night in Budapest also saw Mary Moraa of Kenya end American Athing Mu’s run of global titles in the women’s 800m.

Just as Ingebrigtsen showed mettle after the crushing disappointment of being pipped to silver in the 1500m for the second world championships in a row, so did the Netherlands’ Femke Bol.

Just over a week after she fell with the line and gold beckoning in the mixed 4x400m relay, she produced a jaw-dropping final leg to pass the British and Jamaican runners and secure the title for the Dutch women’s 4x400m team.

In the field events, India’s Neeraj Chopra took men’s javelin honours to add the world crown to his Olympic title.

Mahuchikh cleared a winning height of 2.01m as Australia’s defending champion Eleanor Patterson finished second. Although it was not the greatest of finals, there was potent symbolism in Mahuchikh taking gold with Russian soldiers still on her country’s territory over a year and a half after they invaded.

Her teammate Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk had been deprived of gold in the triple jump earlier in the championships when Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas produced an astonishing last effort.

“I (had) to win this gold for my country and all Ukrainian people who are still fighting for peace in Ukraine and for our independence,” said Mahuchikh.

“Thanks to them we have this unique possibility to compete at the international arena and to rise our flag.”

In the 5,000m, Ingebrigtsen had to battle hard to get past Spaniard Mohamed Katir but once he crossed the line he punched the air and put a finger to his temple. “This title means a lot to me after losing again in the 1500m,” the Norwegian said.

“I haven’t been at my best but I had the motivation and I had great support.

“It is a bit bitter sweet this week overall. I am not happy to have been ill, of course, I haven’t experienced that before, but this is a good way to end.”

Katir took his last-gasp defeat well, as he improved on his bronze last year.

While Ingebrigtsen’s celebrations were muted, Moraa skipped over the line in pure joy after she ended Olympic champion Mu’s reign in the two-lap event.

Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson—second to Moraa in the Commonwealth Games last year—once again had to make do with silver just as she did in the Tokyo Olympics and last year’s world final.

“After bronze last year I wanted to improve and I have,” said Moraa. “Everyone in the final was so fast I knew I would have to have a fast finish.

“I came from a long way behind but I managed to do it.”

Bol had bounced back from the mixed relay disappointment with individual gold in the 400m hurdles but the look of glee on her face when she crossed the line suggested this meant more.

The flamboyant Chopra, wearing a bandana, said it was the fulfilment of a dream to have added the world title to his Olympic crown after winning with a best throw of 88.17m.

He said he expected to see a new surge of interest in India—he already has 6.3 million Instagram followers—even though he admitted “I don’t use social media much.” “There are so many people in India I think after this triumph there will be more following me.”

Bahrain’s Kenya-born Winfred Mutile Yavi cantered to victory in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, beating two of her former compatriots.

The USA wrapped up their championships with men’s relay 4x400m gold, their table-topping 12th of the championships.

However, it was the French team that celebrated hardest as a silver medal ensured next year’s Olympic hosts got their only medal in Budapest.

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