European Athletics Championships in Rome – Long jumper Malaika Mihambo and the pursuit of gold

Status: 11.06.2024 13:37

Olympic champion Malaika Mihambo is currently the most prominent German athlete. The world-class long jumper is aiming for gold at the European Athletics Championships in Rome. But it won’t be a walk in the park.

In qualifying for the final on Wednesday (June 12, 2024, 8:54 p.m., in the live ticker at sportschau.de), Mihambo made her first statement on Tuesday morning (June 11, 2024): With 7.03 m in her first and only attempt, she not only clearly exceeded the 6.70 m required for direct entry into the final. With her first jump over the seven-meter mark this year, she also set a European annual best. “I knew I had it in me. The fact that it worked so well here in the first jump is of course great,” said the 30-year-old in an ARD interview.

With confidence and optimism into the European Championship final

Mihambo underlined her title ambitions with the long jump in the qualification at the Stadio Olimpico. The European Championships in Rome could come at just the right time for the exceptional athlete to gain momentum for the season highlight, the Olympic Games in Paris. “I arrived with a lot of self-confidence and I feel good. My form has improved even more. Now I hope that I can make even more of it in the final,” said Mihambo optimistically, looking ahead to the fight for the European Championship medals.

The start of the season did not go quite as planned

Before the European Championships, Mihambo had only hinted at her form in her first competitions of the season. “I couldn’t really show it in the competitions because the weather didn’t play along or jumps were almost invalid,” said Mihambo. So she arrived in Rome with best distances of 6.74 m and 6.79 m outdoors. This was a little below the world-class level that has distinguished her in recent years. However, she also managed a jump of 6.95 m indoors at the indoor ISTAF in February, which was previously the European best of the year.

Defending champion Spanovic is missing in Rome

The mediocre outdoor season before the start of the European Championships did not unsettle the athlete, who has strong nerves and always seems relaxed and was named Sportswoman of the Year in 2019, 2020 and 2021. “I try to have a good competition for myself, to develop my potential with fun and joy. If I succeed in doing that, I would be very happy,” Mihambo said before her first jump in the Olympic Stadium in Rome.

Anyone who knows me knows that for me it’s no longer just about medals.

Even if she does not directly say that she has a big goal of winning gold at the European Championships, Mihambo is the hunted one in the long jump competition. Especially since one of her biggest rivals, the Serbian Ivana Spanovic, is not in Rome. Spanovic stole the show from Mihambo two years ago when she won the European Championships in Munich ahead of the German, who had been weakened by a corona infection. The Portuguese Agatha de Sousa, who has already jumped 6.88 m this year, could pose a threat to Mihambo in Rome instead.

The season highlight is the Olympic Games in Paris

After winning the World Championship last year, Spanovic is concentrating on winning the Olympics this summer – the last major title she still needs. Of course, the games in Paris are also a top priority for Mihambo, and all her training is geared towards that, she said before the start of the European Championships. But Mihambo is not just thinking about sporting success. “Anyone who knows me knows that for me it’s not just about medals anymore. For me it’s about developing myself, growing as a person,” she said in an ARD interview in Rome. The competition is a good way to test this “inner mastery”. Nevertheless, Mihambo naturally wants to jump far and achieve success this year too. A second Olympic victory, a title defense that has never been seen before in this discipline – that would of course be the crowning achievement.

In 2019, Mihambo managed a seven-meter jump in Rome

But first Rome – and in this “eternal” place, there was still something. Mihambo was asked what she associated with Rome. “The many sights and of course my first seven-meter jump,” she answered. Almost exactly five years ago to the day, she landed at 7.07 m in the Diamond League final in Rome.

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