Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh has two seasons left in the U20 ranks but the 17-year-old has already created her fair share of headlines in senior competitions this season.
Mahuchikh equalled the world indoor U20 record of 1.99m in Hustopece on 26 January to finish second on countback to her compatriot Kateryna Tabashnyk - a mark which she could realistically take sole ownership of during the next indoor season.
And the Ukrainian started her outdoor campaign in equally terrific form in the Doha Diamond League on Friday (3) night. Mahuchikh’s outright lifetime best from the indoor season remains intact for now but she came away with an outdoor lifetime best and with the mantle of the youngest ever woman to win a Diamond League event.
Mahuchikh added one centimetre to her lifetime best with a 1.96m clearance to defeat a distinguished line-up including Bulgaria’s reigning Olympic and European silver medallist Mirela Demireva and former European indoor champion Airine Palsyte from Lithuania by two clear heights.
“To be honest, the victory itself was unexpected,” Mahuchikh told reporters after the competition. “I went to Doha after a training camp and I just wanted to see how my training had gone. It was such a controlled start. And when I learned I was also the youngest winner in history, I felt so pleased. I only dreamed of the Diamond League - now I have already won it.
“I was so surprised I won because I am the youngest competitor here. It is my first time here and I would love to come back for the IAAF World Championships but I cannot get carried away.
“I hope I will now receive some invitations to other IAAF Diamond Leagues and I will next compete in Stockholm in a few weeks' time, I hope to repeat tonight's form again there,” she added.
Mahuchikh is expected to cross paths with reigning world and European champion Mariya Lasitskene in Stockholm on 30 May and again at the IAAF World Championships at the end of the season in Doha - assuming Mahuchikh makes the Ukrainian team which is no guarantee given the sparkling strength in depth in her event domestically.
But despite going toe-to-toe with the seniors already, Mahuchikh has emphasised that her main focus this year is the Boras 2019 European Athletics U20 Championships where she will be one of the main draws of the four day competition.
“For me, the main competition of the season for me is the European U20 Championship which will be held in Sweden in July. Then we will try in September for the World Championships,” she said.
And there could be another record for the taking in Boras. Yelena Yelesina’s championship record of 1.95m from 1989 stood unchallenged until Lasitskene - who was then competing under her maiden name of Kuchina - equalled that mark to win the title in 2011. Mahuchikh already feels capable of clearing 2.00m and could surpass the championship record altogether.
“Although I have a personal best of 1.99m and it is only one centimetre higher, I was still worried,” said Mahuchikh on attempting 2.00m in Doha. “But I think in a short time, I can take this height.”
Mahuchikh has established herself as one of the outstanding young athletes in recent seasons. She has won three major age-group titles in the last two years, setting a lifetime best each time.
After clearing 1.92m to win the IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi in 2017, Mahuchikh improved to 1.94m at the European U18 Championships in 2018 before completing a Grand Slam of major U18 titles with victory at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires where she cleared 1.95m.