In an unprecedented achievement for Israeli women’s athletics, an Israeli triple jumper on Monday won a silver medal at the 15th World Championships in China. Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko is the first Israeli woman and only the second Israeli athlete to win a silver at the event, after pole-vaulter Aleksandr Averbukh 14 years ago.
Knyazyeva-Minenko, who placed fourth at the 2012 Olympics and sixth at the last World Championship, earned the silver with a national record of 14.78 meters on her second attempt.
During a congratulatory phone call from President Reuven Rivlin later Monday, she said “I want to hear ‘Hatikva'” — the Israeli national anthem, which would be played if she won her event. “We’ll get there soon,” she added optimistically.
Knyazyeva-Minenko came second to Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen, who comfortably retained her world triple jump title. The 31-year-old Ibarguen stretched her winning streak to 29 competitions by managing a best of 14.90 meters for gold.
The Colombian champion hasn’t been beaten since losing to Olga Rypakova at the London Olympics on August 5, 2012. Rypakova, who is from Kazakstan, took the bronze medal with 14.77.
The 25-year-old Israeli champion moved to Israel from Ukraine two years ago, switching over from the Ukrainian national team. She moved not to boost her athletics prospects but because she had fallen in love with an Israeli, now husband Anatoli Minenko, a Channel 2 TV report said, and has said she loves competing in Israel.
Despite sustaining several injuries in the past few years and undergoing surgery, Knyazyeva-Minenko broke her previous personal record of 14.71 meters, and shattered Israel’s previous national record of 14.61 meters.
Over a decade has elapsed since an Israeli athlete last stood on the podium at the World Championships. Averbukh won a silver medal for the pole vault in 2001, two years after taking the bronze in the same category in 1999.
AFP contributed to this report.