Ukraine's Yaroslava Mahuchikh celebrates an emotional high jump win at the World Athletics Indoor Championships ©Getty Images

Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh, who spent three days getting to Serbia after fleeing her native town of Dnipro following Russian bombardment, today dedicated her first global gold medal to "all the Ukrainian nation" after a dramatic win at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade.

The 20-year-old Olympic bronze medallist and world silver medallist, one of six female Ukrainian athletes present for the World Championships, had said she wanted to show strength on behalf of her beleaguered people.

Mahuchikh followed through on that as she won a competition she described as her own "front line" with a clearance of 2.02 metres that overcame the challenge of Australia’s 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Eleanor Patterson.

"I didn’t think I was doing it for myself or my medal, I was doing it for all the Ukrainian nation, to show that we are the strongest in the world," Mahuchikh said.

"I want to show Ukrainian people are strong people.

"They never give up.

"Our military protect our country at home and today I protect my country on the track.

"Before we went to the field, the only thought in my mind was about Ukraine because too many terrible things have happened there.

"I even doubted that I could jump at all, but my coach said I must go out and perform with the shape and fitness I had before the start of the Russian invasion."

Before competing, Mahuchikh had recalled how on February 24 she had woken up in her home in Ukraine to the sound of explosions which confirmed Russia had begun its invasion of her country.

Mahuchikh was forced to flee her home town of Dnipro - around 300 miles away from Kyiv - and head into the countryside.

At the urging of the Ukrainian Athletics Federation she prepared to compete in Belgrade and was able to do so after arriving in the Serbian capital following a three-day car journey.

Yaroslava Mahuchikh put a three-day journey behind her to win a world title ©Getty Images
Yaroslava Mahuchikh put a three-day journey behind her to win a world title ©Getty Images

Mahuchikh, whose perennial rival Mariya Lasitskene, the world and Olympic champion, was prevented from competing in Belgrade by the World Athletics ban on Russian and Belarus athletes imposed on March 1, will now head to Germany and the offices of her sponsor Puma before deciding on what comes next.

"I have no idea how I will prepare for the outdoor season," she said.

"I am so sorry that I cannot go back to Ukraine.

"I want to go back as soon as possible, but right now I am going to the Puma office in Germany to get some support from them because I had to make my trip here almost without any clothes."

After trailing the early leaders through an initial failure at 1.92m, Mahuchikh was one failure away from having to settle for bronze, but cleared 2.00m at her third attempt.

Patterson's clearance of 2.00m improved her own Australian record by a centimetre, but she could go no farther, passing after one failure at 2.02m but then failing with her two attempts at 2.04m.

"I was very confident at the low heights, but after two fails at 2.00m I had to focus only on my jumping," added Mahuchikh.

"I had the same situation at the World Championships in 2019 [where she took silver]. 

"Today, though, my motivation to do each height was very different."