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Olympia 2021: Malaika Mihambo


After the World Cup gold in 2019, Malaika Mihambo had start-up problems. The high-flyer had to fight her way up again - and now she has shown in Tokyo in qualifying that she can be expected.

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Malaika Mihambo jumped into the final

Photo: Li Ming / imago images / Xinhua

The alarm clock should be set on time and, above all, early.

At least if you want to be there when Malaika Mihambo jumps for a medal at the Olympic Games, maybe even for gold.

She wants to take off at 3.50 a.m. German time, early Tuesday morning.

Punctuality is also the key word for the long jumper.

With a strong jump on the third and final attempt, Mihambo started the Tokyo Olympics just in time.

She had scratched the seven-meter mark, in the end she was 6.98 meters in the qualification and was the second strongest athlete in the preliminary fight.

“I'm very happy that it finally worked out in the third.

It was the first jump on the board in six months, ”said Mihambo, for whom it was the season's best.

“I was sure that the distance would come when I was on the board.

It's a self-affirmation because I had no doubt about it. "

It's just an inventory, in the final the conditions will be different and the competition will risk even more.

Some opponents had already dropped out prematurely after a decent distance in the first jump, Mihambo had to fight to the end, get the security for the competition and fight against the heat in the 39 degrees hot Olympic Stadium.

The high-flyer in 2019

Who knows if Mihambo can really intervene in the medal race.

But this first inventory, the 6.98 meters, it gives first of all security.

And so the question arises: after a difficult preparation, is the 27-year-old still in the form she was in 2019 - and with which she would definitely have jumped for gold?

It wasn't long ago that very different questions arose about Mihambo.

After its great year 2019 with the crowning world title in Qatar, the gold medal was firmly planned for German athletics, at least it looked like that from the outside.

Because she was so good.

So it was said: Will she attack Heike Drechsler's world record from 1985 in Tokyo?

It is 7.44 meters.

And will she perhaps also compete in the 100-meter sprint in the relay in Tokyo because she is also an extremely fast runner?

You could ask these questions because Mihambo had flown away from the competition at the time and, besides gold, seemed even more possible in the long jump.

Now, two years later, the long jumper would still be clearly ahead of the competition, the competitors have not become much stronger since then.

But Mihambo no longer jumps as far as it did in 2019 when she flew 7.30 meters at the end of the year.

The problem with the start-up

Mihambo had changed her approach in the corona year, in which her move to the USA to the athletics legend Carl Lewis for the time being failed.

From now on they wanted to run 16 instead of the previous 20 steps in order to protect themselves and to minimize the risk of injury.

Why burn it out when there are hardly any competitions due to Corona anyway?

But this change on the 40-meter inrun was not without complications, on the contrary.

Mihambo could no longer cope, and the change disrupted her process so much that she returned to the 20 steps six months ago - and finally still had problems finding the way back to the old security.

Her regular best distance in 2021 (adjusted for tail wind) was 6.92 meters before the Olympics, nine athletes had jumped further this year.

But now the third qualifying jump came in Tokyo.

Now everything looks a little better again.

“I believed in myself, so I didn't have to break free.

It was nice to see that you then have the right feeling, ”she said on Sunday.

"These are great prerequisites for jumping in the final."

Mihambo has always been considered an athlete who combines speed and strength and does not forget her spirit of discovery alongside sports.

During her career she went backpacking in Asia in order to take new impressions and charms with her, also for her sports career.

They were also tours to deal with crises.

In 2017 her career came to a dead end after an injury - and a subsequent break in India helped her to find her way back.

A change of scenery has never harmed Mihambo.

Maybe Japan is one of them.

In any case, the promising result in qualification speaks for it.

"The self-confidence is there," she says.

With quotes from dpa

Source: spiegel

All sports articles on 2021-08-01

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