Expectations of Yaroslava Mahuchikh were higher than ever at the beginning of the 2022 season. Having secured her first major global gold at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Ukraine's rising star had two more gongs in her sights for the summer season: the outdoor world title and the Diamond Trophy.
Mahuchikh had come within a whisker of the Diamond League title in 2021 when, still just 19, she took Mariya Lasitskene to the brink in a thrilling battle at the women's high jump final on Zurich's Sechseläutenplatz. With Lasitskene out of action in 2022 and the wind in her sails after Belgrade, she was strong favourite to take the title a year later.
Her success in Serbia was all the more impressive given that it came against the horrific backdrop of conflict in Ukraine. Mahuchikh, like many of her fellow athletes, was forced to flee her hometown of Dnipro in early 2022 and train on unfamiliar territory for most of the season while the bombs and bullets raged back home.
She nonetheless made a dominant start to the campaign in Eugene, in what appeared at the time to be a perfect dress rehearsal for the World Athletics Championships. Leaving the rest of the field miles behind her, Mahuchikh soared over 2.00m in her first Diamond League appearance of the season, recording a world lead and a fourth two-metre jump of her career on the Diamond League circuit.
The Ukrainian consolidated her position at the top of the qualification standings over the following month, cruising to another comfortable victory over compatriot Iryna Gerashchenko with 1.96m in Rabat before improving her own world lead with 2.01m in Paris.