Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko of Israel competes in the women's triple jump qualification during the 15th IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko produced her best when it mattered most on Monday, recording a new national record and personal best on the way to the silver medal in the women’s triple-jump final at the athletics world championships in Beijing, becoming just the second Israeli to win a medal at the event.
The 25-year-old finished in second place with a leap of 14.78 meters, a seven-centimeter improvement to her previous best which she set when she still represented Ukraine three years ago.
Pole-vaulter Alex Averbukh is the only other Israeli to have scaled the podium at the world championships, winning a bronze in 1999 and a silver in 2001.
Knyazyeva-Minenko, who began representing Israel in 2013 after marrying former decathlete Anatoly Minenko, registered her record jump with her second attempt on Monday, which was only bettered by Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia, who won with 14.90m. Ibarguen extended her unbeaten streak to 29 finals, with the 31-year-old reigning supreme since she took the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Knyazyeva-Minenko entered the championships in excellent form after jumping 14.61m in Prague in June to improve her own national record.
However, she peaked at the perfect time on Monday and will be among Israel’s best hopes at next summer’s Rio Olympics.
Knyazyeva-Minenko finished in fourth position as a Ukrainian at the London 2012 Olympics and in sixth place in the previous edition of the world championships in Moscow two years ago, her first major event as an Israeli.
“I thank everyone in Israel for the support.
It really gives me strength and I’m really happy,” said Knyazyeva-Minenko.
“In the warm-up my leg hurt me a little and I would like to thank the delegation’s doctor and the rest of the team because without that support I couldn’t have brought Israel a medal.”
Knyazyeva-Minenko fouled in four of her six attempts in the final, but her one perfect jump was good enough for silver, a mere centimeter ahead of Olga Rypakova, Kazakhstan’s Olympic champion, and just 12 centimeters in front of Bulgaria’s Gabriela Petrova, who finished in fourth.
“I didn’t feel anything special in that jump. I only realized that it was a personal best after I saw it on the scoreboard,” she said.
“Everybody in Israel was watching this event and hoping for the first female medal at the world championships. I cannot describe how emotional this moment is.”