Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko won the silver medal in the women's triple jumps at the World Championships in Beijing on Monday, a first-ever Israeli women's medal that also earned the immigrant from Ukraine an Israel national record of 14.78 meters.
"Everybody in Israel was watching this event and hoping for the first female [Israeli] medal at the World Championships. I cannot describe how emotional this moment is," said Knyazyeva-Minenko, who finished fourth at the 2012 Olympics for Ukraine but acquired Israeli citizenship in 2013. Colombia's Caterine Ibarguen took the gold medal, stretching her triple jump win record to 29 straight competitions since silver at the 2012 Olympics.
Knyazyeva-Minenko began training at the age of eight, first concentrating on running. She was 13 before deepening her acquaintance with the sand pit. “At first I was better at the long jump,” she told Haaretz, “but the triple was more interesting. Every slight improvement in technique can improve the result even more, and I love flying through the air. Before the jump, I run through technical details in my head, think about what to do during the jump. When I fly in the air, I can’t describe it because I cannot be thinking about anything. It’s all automatic to me.”
The Israeli silver medalist relocated to Israel after she met former Israeli decathlon champion Anatoly Mineko, whom she married. "In Ukraine we couldn’t be together, because I was always in training camps," she told Haaretz earlier this year. "We’re happier in Israel, and Anatoly has work here. The most important thing for both of us is to be together, and [in Ukraine] it wouldn’t have been possible.”
Speaking about her move from Ukraine to Israel, she said: “People are more optimistic and warmer [in Israel]. There they are cold and they put up more of a front. They try to impress. Today I already feel comfortable here and I love Israel, the culture. It’s interesting to read books about the history of the state, about people like David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir," she said.
In other news from the Beijing event, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce became the first woman to win three 100 meters world titles and Ezekiel Kemboi achieved a fourth straight 3,000 meter steeplechase gold in a Kenyan 1-4 finish on Monday.