For the Ukrainian high jumper, world silver feels like gold

EUGENE, Ore. – Second place in the world championship went to the best high jumper in Ukraine, Yaroslava Mahuchikh.

“For me, it’s gold,” she said Tuesday night as she watched the award she had just won, one no one would have expected four months ago after she made a three-day drive to get away from her hometown and run away. . of the bombing.

Mahuchikh left shortly after his country was besieged by the Russian army. The war continues. Although thousands of civilians and soldiers are dying, Mahuchikh felt it was his duty to continue doing what he knows best, even if it was for no other reason than to give people back something to be happy about. And, he said, to prove that Ukraine is strong.

“We will fight for our independence and for our territory,” he said. “And of course, eventually, we’ll win.”

She entered the biggest high jump competition of the year as a favorite, in part because three-time defender Maria Lasitskene is from Russia and was not allowed to compete in major events due to the war.


The Ukrainian finished behind the stunning Eleanor Patterson of Australia, who had a failure less than Mahuchikh at 2.02 meters (6 feet, 7 1/2 inches), which made the difference between the first and second.

Still, this was a night of celebration for Ukraine, and for Mahuchikh, who said he felt the heat from the stands, where the yellow and blue flags of Ukraine splashed a few seats and fans cheered her on before each jump.

“Now, everything is for our Ukrainian people, and whatever you do, you want to show good results,” he said.

The silver medal goes along with the gold he won at the world indoor track championships in March. That came shortly after she had escaped from her hometown of Dnipro, which had been attacked by Russia and is said to be under siege today.

She is one of 22 Ukrainian athletes in Eugene this week for the championships, all of them training away from home: some in Portugal, others in Spain, others in Poland and Mahuchikh, most recently in California, after stops in Serbia, Germany and Turkey .


His teammate, Iryna Gerashchenko, finished fourth, also a spectacular result given her plight after bombs began to fall near her home in Kiev. After taking refuge in his parents ’basement for about a week, he left without skewers and trained for a while with tennis shoes.

“Things are a little better, but at the same time, the war is happening,” said Gerashchenko, whose 2-meter (6-foot, 6 3/4) jump was a personal best. “It is very difficult to live the previous life, the previous life. But I’m very happy that my parents are safe. “

Mahuchikh’s medal gives Ukraine two in half of the World Cup.

A night earlier, Andriy Protsenko had won bronze in the men’s high jump. His victory comes months after he was trapped for nearly six weeks in his hometown of Kherson, which is near the Crimean peninsula and under Russian occupation.

“It made me realize that anything is possible,” said Ukrainian valet Anna Ryzhykova, who finished second in her preliminary qualifier shortly before Mahuchikh took to the field. “He trained for a month in a busy city where he was risking his life. It’s amazing. “


Athletics World President Sebastian Coe was in attendance. His federation was one of the first to banish the Russians from these great events, a decision made, he said, because there was no justice in allowing athletes from an aggressor nation to enter while those in the attacked country lived such fragile stocks.

“Some of them live in their training camps and can’t get home, others wonder where their loved ones are,” Coe said. “Their homes have been destroyed. It’s inconceivable. I don’t think any of us have that in our frame of reference.”

Mahuchikh said his mother, sister and niece are safe in Germany. His father and grandfather remain in Dnipro, where he said they can sometimes hear artillery fire.

There is no timeline for when you can return to your home country to display the silver medal.

“I wish I could go home to our airport, talk to our reporters and our family,” he said. “But now I can’t do it. The Russians took that opportunity from me.”


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For the Ukrainian high jumper, world silver feels like gold

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