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Neutral triumph of Russian athletics: Lasitskene wins gold at 2017 World Championships

Maria Lasitskene became a two-time world champion in high jump
Maria Lasitskene EPA/ANDY RAIN
Maria Lasitskene

LONDON, August 13. /TASS/. The victory of Russia’s Maria Lasitskene (Kuchina) in the high jump at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics will become part of the world athletics history, as it is the first time a sportsman performing under a neutral flag become a winner. Lasitskene herself admitted that she would like to hear the hymn of Russia in honor of her victory while standing on the winners’ podium and not the hymn of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Lasitskene, who did not play a single start this season, became the only sportsman at the world championships who covered the 2.03 meter bar, having managed to jump over it at the first try. She was followed by Ukraine’s Yulia Levchenko (2.01 meters), who set an individual record. Bronze was won by Poland’s Kamila Licwinko (1.99 meters), who showed her best result of this season.

Lasitskene does not consider her victory expected

"I don’t think that my victory was expected," Lasitskene said. "I behaved in a strained way during the competition, because I needed emotions to continue the fight at further levels. Why didn’t I take the 1.99 bar at the first try? Because I was a fool and had to improve later."

The Russian managed to protect her world championship title that was first won in August 2015 in Beijing. "If to compare the gold from the Beijing world championships and the awards in London, the second medal was more difficult to achieve," Lasitskene noted. "Why so? First, because of the conditions we were put into. Second, I was under great pressure, as I came to protect my title."

"This is certain pressure as well, as the fans, the press and other people are looking at you. Everyone wants, everyone wishes a victory for you, and you are afraid to disappoint them. So, it all pressed [me] very much," the athlete admitted.

Russian athletes have to perform at international competitions as neutral sportsmen during the suspension of the membership of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) in the IAAF. According to the IAAF’s regulations, in case a neutral sportsman wins at the world championships, the IAAF hymn will be performed during the official awarding ceremony instead of Russia’s hymn.

"I wanted to hear the hymn of my country today, but we’ll have a chance in the future. I won’t spend my forces discussing this issue. A lot was spent on it already, there is a result, and this is what matters," the athlete said.