Aug 14

The Story of Caterine Ibargüen: Colombian Olympic Gold Medalist

Caterine Ibargüen


Coming to into the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Colombia’s Caterine Ibargüen was the nation’s biggest hope to claim a Gold Medal in the triple jump; a gold which would represent only Colombia’s fourth gold medal in their Olympic history and the country’s first ever in athletics. Well, last night in Rio Ibargüen only went and did it! Colombia has their second gold medal of the 2016 Olympic Games, and Ibargüen is now the World and Olympic champion in the triple jump! But who is Caterine Ibargüen?

Caterine Ibargüen was born on February 12, 1984 in the town of Apartadó in the Urabá region of Antioquia department. The young Caterine hardly had an easy childhood. She was largely raised by her grandmother Ayola Rivas (who could, in perhaps the most emotional moment of last night’s medal win, be seen celebrating on television back in Apartadó), after her parents, Francisca and William, split up due to Colombia’s armed conflict. William moved to Venezuela and Francisca to nearby Turbo. Her grandmother often struggled to put food on the table, but Caterine was a good student at San Francisco de Asís College in her hometown. She started off playing volleyball before being discovered by her first coach Wilder Zapata and switching to athletics. It would turn out to be a smart move…

Detenerse no es opción! Feliz día para todos!

A photo posted by Caterine Ibargüen Mena (@triplecibarguen) on

Aged 14 Ibargüen set off to live in Medellin, where she improved under a succession of Cuban coaches, focusing on the High Jump (an event in which she stills holds the Colombian record, with 1.93 meters), which won her her first medal, a bronze at the senior South American Championships in Bogota in 1999, aged just 15! Her first ever gold medal came in the same event at the South American Junior Championships in Argentina in 2001, and she matched that feat at the Bolivarian Games in Ecuador that same year. By this point she was competing in the 4x100m, the long jump, high jump and triple jump. She added more gold medals to her growing medal cabinet in Ecuador at the South American Junior Championships in 2003, and qualified for Colombia’s Olympic team for Athens 2004. However, at the biggest stage of her career so far she failed to qualify for the finals…

Ibargüen continued to win medals at various South American championships, but she failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a moment which almost caused her to quit the sport and resulted in depression for the young athlete. However, under the guidance of her new coach Ubaldo Duany she decided to focus on the triple jump. Another smart move there…

Her record since that moment has been unparalleled in Colombian athletics – she claimed a triple jump gold in Argentina at the South American Championships in 2011, and made it onto the podium in third at the World Championships in South Korea that same year. She went into the London 2012 Olympics feeling confident, and managed a jump of 14.80m, putting her on the podium again with a silver medal. “This silver medal is for all Colombia. I am extremely happy for this achievement. It is the reward for many years of sacrifice, leaving Apartadó, moving to Medellín and then Puerto Rico. But I honestly believe I could have jumped farther,” she said after her silver.

Con Dios salto cada día más lejos.

A photo posted by Caterine Ibargüen Mena (@triplecibarguen) on

And she did! In 2013 Ibargüen made Colombian history by winning gold at the World Championships in Moscow, a feat she then repeated in China at the 2015 Championships. She entered this summer’s Olympics as World Champion and the hot favorite to take home a gold…

And guess what?! She just did! With a mighty leap of 15.17m Ibargüen swept past her competition to finally claim the biggest prize in anthletics: an Olympic Gold Medal. Not bad work for the girl from Apartadó…

Check out this link for a full sporting bio of Caterine Ibargüen, including all her medals and distances.


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