Hugues-Fabrice Zango, hailing from Burkina Faso, clinched his inaugural world title in the triple jump at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest. On Monday, he achieved an astonishing 17.64-meter leap, overshadowing competitors Lazaro Martinez and Cristian Napoles, both from Cuba, who secured the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Zango, a source of immense national pride for Burkina Faso, had previously secured the country’s first-ever Olympic medal in Tokyo two years ago by winning bronze in the triple jump. In that same year, he also established a new indoor world record.
Zango’s triumph in Budapest was somewhat eased when Jaydon Hibbert, the promising Jamaican teen who held the year’s longest jump, was forced out due to injury after the initial round.
After the competition, an elated Zango expressed, “Look at my big, big, big smiling mouth. It tells you everything. I had so many difficulties and doubts, I have been struggling a lot. I had to travel a very long way to get this gold medal. I am proud to be the man who keeps his word.”
Ranked as the world No. 2, Zango’s 17.64-meter leap on his fifth attempt propelled him past Cuba’s Lazaro Martinez, who secured silver with a 17.41-meter distance after fouling three times. Martinez narrowly edged out compatriot Cristian Napoles, who recorded a 17.40-meter jump. Notably, Zango’s gold marked history as the first-ever world title in the triple jump for an African nation.
“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,” Zango exclaimed. “We have some troubles in our country now, and it is an incredible mission to bring some positive emotions to them.”
In parallel championship events, Marie-Josee Ta Lou narrowly missed a medal in the women’s 100m final. Despite entering as the world’s third-fastest woman this year, the 34-year-old finished fourth on Monday, clocking 10.81 seconds. The gold went to American Sha’Carri Richardson with 10.65 seconds, followed by Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson with silver in 10.72, and five-time event champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica taking bronze in 10.77.