Mérida, August 2, 2021 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas has become an overnight hero after smashing both the world and Olympic triple jump records to win the country’s first-ever female gold medal.
A jubilant Rojas (25) jumped 15.67 meters on Sunday, destroying the previous 15.50 m world record set before she was born and prompting celebrations in her working-class hometown of Barcelona, Anzoátegui state. The favorite Rojas out-jumped Portugal’s Patricia Mamona, who took silver, by a massive 66 centimeters, while Spain’s Ana Peleteiro took bronze.
It is Venezuela’s first Olympic gold since fencer Ruben Limardo took the honor at the 2012 London Games. Rojas was previously Venezuela’s first female Olympic silver medalist when she narrowly lost out to Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen at the 2016 Rio Games. She was later awarded the Best Female Athlete in the Americas award by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) in 2017.
President Nicolás Maduro congratulated Rojas following her success on Sunday, calling her “the Queen of Tokyo” with an “out-of-this-world” performance. Maduro’s sentiments were echoed by Youth and Sports Minister Mervin Maldonado, who described the athlete as “humble, charismatic, intelligent, a fighter, disciplined, consistent, a patriot with a massive heart” from his temporary base in the Japanese capital.
For her part, Rojas told the president that she was “jumping on one leg with joy” after a “magical night” in the Olympic Stadium.
“[The medal] is an example of hard work and dedication (…) It is for all the children, to show them that they can struggle and achieve their dreams. We come from a land of beautiful people and fighters,” she said.
Rojas’ victory was especially celebrated by Venezuela’s LGBTIQ+ movements. The openly lesbian athlete has drawn criticism from some conservative sectors in the past, and is a public advocate of Venezuela’s long-standing struggle to legalize same-sex marriage. She previously stated that “hopefully there will come a moment in Venezuela when love between people of the same sex is respected.”
The triple jumper’s success propelled Venezuela to 29th in the medals table at the time of writing, after Julio Mayora (24) and Keydomar Vallenilla (21) also won silvers in weightlifting and Daniel Dhers (36) took the same honor in BMX freestyle. It has been deemed Venezuela’s most successful start to an Olympics Game in recent years. The country finished 65th in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games with one silver and two bronze medals.
delegation has not allowed itself to be beaten by the sanctions and blockade,” Infante explained on Sunday.