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The biggest aim is not to medal, but to return home says Ukrainian high jump star Yaroslava Mahuchikh

Yaroslava Mahuchikh has won her second outdoor world championship silver medal in Oregon. She even has time to prepare for her university entrance exams, reading books between competitions and training. But most of all, her dream is to return to her native city – Dnipro. The day before the women’s high jump qualification at the World Championships, Russian rockets were aimed at that very place.


“I was worried, I didn’t know exactly where those rockets landed, I called my dad, and asked if he was safe or if he heard something. Of course, I was nervous. It’s good that the qualification was the next day. I had time to come to my senses. I understood that I had to jump and I had to show results.”


Yaroslava qualified for the final of the women’s high jump easily, together with compatriot Iryna Gerashchenko. The level of competition in the qualification was one of the most intense in the history of the world championships. At once, eight female athletes cleared the height of 1.96m. This had not happened since 2009.

Yaroslava reached the height of 1.98m without any problems. Jump after jump from 1.89m to 1.98m – she cleared them on the first attempt. Every time before jumping, she looked at her trainer.


“It’s been my ritual since I don’t know how long. Before trying, I first look at my trainer, and then jump.

“And in general, I have many rituals before the start. One of them is my hair, I do my own braids. Also, a new ritual is make-up. Now, these are arrows in the colours of the flag of Ukraine. These rituals help me to distract myself so that I don’t get nervous, and only later, I can go to the sector and get ready for jumping.”

Yaroslava Mahuchikh’s trainer is Tetyana Stepanova. Their success story began in 2011.


“When she came to the sports school, I was training with another coach. Then we worked in tandem. When we stopped cooperating, I chose Tetyana Volodymyrivna. It is thanks to her that I have such a result: silver at the World Championships, gold at the World Indoor Championships.”

Yaroslava fought for the gold in Eugene against the Australian Eleanora Patterson. But Patterson who defeated her in the final of the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade this year, jumping at a height of 2.02m, beat her again. This time, the fight also ended at 2.02m as the athletes failed to jump 2.04m.


“I enjoyed my jumps. I was able to tune in and turn off my emotions, actually. There is silver and I am very happy. All the girls in the sector are very excited and support us. They are very enthusiastic about us and happy about our successes.”


Yaroslava is impressed by the support not only from the spectators during the competition but also from ordinary passers-by on the street. People support Ukrainians and wish them good luck, believing in their victory.

“The girls and I jump in order to show the whole world our strength and invincibility. That is why we talk a lot with journalists. Everyone is always shocked by our stories about the war, but this is our lives now, this is our experience. But I believe that after the war, everything will be fine, even much better. We must go through it, and probably only we can do it. Because everyone knows that Ukrainian people are the strongest. The main goal is to go home to Dnipro”


Yaroslava flies to Germany on July 21. That is where her temporary home is now. Her immediate plans are to prepare for the European Championship in Munich.

“I really want to go home after the championship. But if I can’t go after it, I plan to do it after the end of the season. I want to reset and see my father, grandmother, and friends, that’s why I really want to go home. This is my main goal.”

Between training sessions, Yaroslava still manages to read and prepare for her university entrance. She needs to pass the national multitest in mathematics.

“In my free time, I really read books. Mostly novels. I like books by Mona Kasten and Jojo Moes. I recently finished reading her book “Still Me”, I read it in English and I really liked it. Now I’m thinking of buying another novel in English. I’ve started reading an autobiography by Will Smith.”

After completing her sports career, Yaroslava Maguchih wants to be a coach. He is especially eager to work with children and share her experience with them.

Credit: AIPS Media

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