Burkina Faso's Zango Completes World Medal Set With Triple Jump Gold in Budapest

Faith Kipyegon leading the race at the World Championships in Oregon (file photo).
22 August 2023

Budapest, Hungary — Burkina Faso's Hugues Fabrice Zango earned his first global title after a dramatically fluctuating men's triple jump final that ended with two Cubans sharing the podium with him, separated by a single centimetre.

The 30-year-old France-based athlete, who already had an Olympic bronze and world silver and bronze, completed his collection with the best of all colours at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 after taking an early lead, losing it, and regaining it with his penultimate effort of 17.64m.

Silver went to 25-year-old Lazaro Martinez on 17.41m, with his 24-year-old teammate Cristian Napoles earning bronze with a personal best of 17.40m.

There was disappointment for Jamaica's 18-year-old rising talent Jaydon Hibbert, who had to scratch from the competition after the first round.

Having invited and received big support before his opening jump, the world U20 champion, whose 17.87m in May leads this year's world list, aborted the effort immediately after his hop, stuttering to halt and appearing to be troubled by the hamstring in his take-off leg.

Despite the relatively late announcement of the withdrawal of Portugal's world and Olympic champion Pedro Pablo Pichardo, this final lacked for nothing in terms of quality or competitiveness.

Zango, second on this year's world list with 17.81m, took an early grip on the contest with an opening effort of 17.37m that put him 41 centimetres clear of his nearest first-round challenger, Algeria's Yaser Triki.

But in the second round it was as if a switch had been thrown, and Burkino Faso's Olympic bronze medallist was pushed down to second place by the 17.41m recorded by Martinez, with China's Zhu Yaming moving into third position on 17.12m and Napoles taking over fourth place on 17.02, one centimetre ahead of Zhu's compatriot Fang Yaoqing.

It was Napoles's turn to celebrate in the fourth round. He thumped the side-boarding and roared into the cameras after a big effort that turned out to be a personal best of 17.40m - enough to move him into silver-medal position.

Zango's response was good - 17.36m - but not good enough to raise him from the bronze medal position.

But fifth time round it all came together for him as he moved back into the lead with 17.64m. Martinez, back in second place, fouled out in response.

So it all came down to the last round - where the only effective improvement was from Zhu, who improved his best from 17.08m to 17.15m.

Confirmed as champion, Zango got the practically full house clapping in support for a final effort that came to naught but didn't matter. Looking thrilled but calm, he draped his national flag around his shoulders and stood momentarily triumphant.

"Look at my big smiling mouth. It tells you everything," said Zango. "I had so many difficulties and doubts.

"I promised to make history and I did it tonight. That is the first gold medal in the men's triple jump not only for my country, but for Africa as well. I cannot imagine the level of celebration in my country when I go back home, but I'm going to start the celebrations in Budapest."

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