IAAF Awards: Ibarguen back to her unstoppable best

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Double Diamond Trophy winner Caterine Ibarguen returns for her first Diamond League triple jump of the year. Photo: Matthew Quine

Barring the occasional mishap, triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen has been virtually unstoppable for the best part of six years.

The Colombian has won 36 of the last 42 Diamond League triple jump meets and picked up world and Olympic golds on the way.

This year however, the Olympic champion took her achievements to a whole new level. Not only did she clinch another triple jump Diamond Trophy, she also managed to claim more Diamond League honours in the long jump, becoming the first field athlete in Diamond League history to pick up two trophies in one season.

While she only picked up one victory throughout the Diamond League season, it was certainly no fluke, with Ibarguen consistently finishing in the top three of all her long jump competitions last season and displaying pure, all-round jumping prowess that few can compete with.

It was also the perfect way for  the 34-year-old to respond to last season’s world championship disappointment when she was prevented from winning a third successive world title by Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas.

Before then, the Olympic champion had had it virtually all her own way, so for a 21-year-old Rojas to come along and beat a woman who was over 11 years her senior gave an impression that the guard was about to change.

Rojas’ subsequent world indoor gold in March 2018 (above) meant the spotlight shone even more brightly on her, with the world champion clinching gold despite injuring her right foot just two months before it.

However, the tide was soon to shift again, with Rojas picking up another injury, this time on her ankle, which ruled her out for most of the season and left Ibarguen as the main player in the triple jump once more.

Admittedly there was much anticipation for 2018 to see what would happen when Ibarguen and Rojas once again clashed. Would the young Rojas kick on from her world gold or would the veteran Ibarguen reclaim her crown?

While Rojas’ injury meant that was now lost, Ibarguen proved that she could still raise her game and dazzle audiences whether the competition was strong or not.

In the triple jump, she was once again simply unbeatable, quickly seeing off any challenge that came her way leading up to the Diamond League Final.

The final itself was a true test of her steel, with the Colombian not at her best and under the cosh from the get-go and just managing to scrape the win by a mere centimetre ahead of Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts.

While this might have implied there was a chink in her armour, Ibarguen then traveled from Zurich to Brussels and within a day launched herself into the long jump and won yet another trophy.

It was an incredible shock that few would have seen coming, immediately banishing any thoughts that Ibarguen might be on the way down after losing out on gold at London 2017.

This proved that even if she wasn’t at her best, she could always find a way to win, which is the mark of a great competitor and the mentality that has kept her at the top for so long.

With Rojas looking set to return next season, Ibarguen has proven that she is more than ready for the returning world champion, in what is shaping up to be a very exciting triple jump affair at Doha 2019.

See full shortlists for the awards here.