Yaroslava Mahuchikh yesterday leapt to another victory in the high-jump in the season finale of the prestigious Diamond League held in Oregon, USA – and used it to declare victory for Ukraine. 

Setting new records, the 21-year-old emerging athletics superstar, won the Diamond League end-of-season championship, with a season’s best 2.03 meters, which automatically qualified her for the Sept. 2024 Paris Olympics. 

Following her towering results in 2022 and 2023, Mahuchikh is considered by many to be the favorite to take high-jump gold in next year’s Games. She won the bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Mahuchikh, a native of Dnipro, has strongly supported calls for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be banned from participating in the Games.

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 “I’m so happy to compete and I’m happy that I have the opportunity to compete and show all the world that we are strongest. We are from Ukraine,” Mahuchikh declared after her Oregon win.

“Now is extra important because it’s precious that I have the opportunity to represent my country and show all the world that in my country… all our people are fighting in different spheres,”Mahuchikh said of the significance of her victory.

“I’m fighting on the track and after this I have opportunity to talk to journalists so I talk and spread all the news [of Ukraine] to all the world,” she added. 

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Prior to the meet, a relaxed Mahuchikh posted a social media video of herself dancing on the Oregon track. Her confidence suited her well as the event – for the highest qualifying athletes from the Diamond League’s 13 stage international season - came down to a three-way face-off between Mahuchikh, Australia’s Nicola Olysagers, and Serbia’s Angelina Topic.

After the Serb was eliminated at 1.98 meters, the Ukrainian and the Aussie both went on to clear 2.03 meters, but Mahuchikh, wearing her trademark blue-and-yellow eye makeup, was awarded the gold medal on countback – she had taken fewer jumps overall.

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Two other Ukrainian high-jumpers, Yulia Levchenko and Iryna Herashchenko, also competed in the final, but did not get into the medal places. 

What Mahuchikh, who holds the Ukrainian national outdoor record of 2.05 meters and the Ukrainian national indoor record of 2.06 meters, has accomplished in the last 18 months is “nothing short of remarkable”, Ukraiinska Pravda noted in its coverage.

In March 2022, together with her mother, sister and niece, she was forced to flee the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Traveling over 1500 kilometers by car for three days, she made her way to Belgrade, Serbia and won gold at the World Indoor Championships. 

Afterward, according to UPMahuchikh moved to Germany and then Belgium to train while the war continued at home. Later in 2022, Mahuchykh won gold at the European Championships and took the silver medal at the World Championships, before capping the year with her first Diamond League trophy.

In 2023, Mahuchikh won gold at the European Indoor Championships in March, and the outdoor European Games in June. Then, she stamped her authority on international women’s high-jump by winning gold at the World Championships in Budapest in August. 

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Off the track, Mahuchikh has been one of many Ukrainian athletes who have been strongly outspoken against Russia’s unprovoked and illegal aggression against their country, including its direct, damaging and sometimes deadly impact on Ukrainian sportspeople and sports infrastructure. In April, Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee said that 262 athletes had been killed during the war and that 363 sports facilities destroyed.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is yet to make a final decision on whether or not to allow the participation of Russian and Belarussian nationals in the Paris Olympic Games. In March 2023 the IOC did allow their participation in qualifying events under a neutral flag while stating that “athletes who actively support the war cannot compete.”

Speaking in response to an invitation by the IOC to meet President Thomas Bach in June 2023, Mahuchikh voiced her concerns about the organization’s weakened position.

“It is very difficult to compete with people who destroy your country. Really - every day - the Russians carry out missile attacks on all of the territories of Ukraine,” Mahuchikh said then. “We are one year before the Olympics. We will do everything possible [to ensure] that the Russians and Belarusians are not allowed to go to the Paris Olympics.”

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During the 2023 Diamond League season, Ukrainian athletes won 16 medals across various disciplines. These included gold in high-jump competitions for Mahuchikh (in Rabat, Xiamen and Brussels) and for Herashchenko (in Chorzów).

In a disappointment for Ukrainian athletics and herself, triple-jumper and long-jumper Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk did not compete at the Oregon meet because she had contracted COVID-19. Bekh-Romanchuk is currently ranked second in the world in the triple-jump. She is one-half of Ukrainian sport’s “super couple” with Mykhailo Romanchuk, who swam for silver and bronze medals at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Comments (2)

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Nikolay Litvin
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Makuye
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By the way, both Herashchenko and Levchenko have also jumped the rare height of 2 meters +. Inha Babakova jumped 2.05 as well, in 1995. Ukrainian women have been among the world's best, even while this invasion has harmed their families. Expect Mahuchikh to leap to greater heights.

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