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Reigning two-time world champion Ibarguen was a hot favourite heading into Rio 2016, having won 36 of her last 37 competitions excluding qualifying events, and produced a season’s best jump in the fourth round of the final to take win her country’s first Olympic gold medal in track and field. Ibarguen’s gold was Colombia’s second of Rio 2016, after Oscar Figueroa’s weightlifting win.
Rojas’ best of 14.98m, also in the fourth round, was enough for silver. Defending champion Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan took bronze with 14.74m after pulling off her two best jumps of season.
“It’s the biggest dream to achieve this,” said Ibarguen, a silver medallist at London 2012. “I’m very happy and proud to represent my country. I’m so happy to be the first Colombian to win in the triple jump.”
The 32-year-old soared past 15m twice and was in total control after producing her fourth-round jump, though she failed in her plan to break the world record of 15.50m. The 20-year-old Rojas also made history, becoming the first Venezuelan woman to win an Olympic athletics medal and the youngest female winner of an Olympic triple jump medal, capping her meteoric rise in an event she only started two years ago.
Summing up a ground-breaking evening for South American track and field, the newly crowned champion said: “This is very significant for both of us. I feel this is a high point for South American athletics and that there will be yet more outstanding results.”
Speaking afterwards, Rojas said: “Caterine was a tremendous competitor and I’m very happy for her. I knew it would take a lot of work and effort, but I just had to concentrate on myself. We did everything possible to be here and I’m extremely happy with this new accomplishment. I dedicate this medal to the people of Venezuela.”