There have been nine world records in the history of the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea since the meeting came into being in 1980 and there are quiet hopes that at the fourth in the 2014 IAAF Diamond League series such a tally will reach double figures on Thursday (5).
The most likely event in which this will happen is the men’s high jump, and three of the main protagonists – Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim, Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko and Russia’s Ivan Ukhov – faced the press on Wednesday.
Q: What do you expect from this competition in Rome?
Mutaz Essa Barshim: Firstly, I think it will be a good competition. As we all know, high jumping is more and more interesting at the moment. I’m looking forward to a close competition, good weather and the crowd’s support.
Bohdan Bondarenko: I think in this competition you will get jumpers with good results. Tomorrow, we will see good results.
Ivan Ukhov: We will see tomorrow!
Q: All three of you have said you expect a good result, is a world record possible?
MB: That’s the question everybody has been asking for the last few months. It is possible, but who is going to jump it, you can never tell. High jump now (for depth) is the best ever. Everybody is at a high level and there are several people who can do the world record, it is possible.
BB: It is possible, so I hope I am the one to do it.
IV: (With Bohdan Bondarenko as his translator). I just want to do better than these two here.
Q: All three of you have been jumping well this season, Mutaz and Ivan in Doha, Bohdan in Tokyo, but what could they have done at these meetings to have jumped higher?
MB: Jumping 2.37m (at the first IAAF Diamond League meeting of 2014) in Doha was the highest I have ever started the season, so I was very satisfied. I really don’t think I could have jumped higher than that and I don’t think I could have done anything different at this stage of the season.
BB: I don’t think I could have done better than my 2.40m in Tokyo (on 11 May). All I need to jump higher is two, three, four competitions, then I will get a better result.
IV: To have done better (than 2.41m) I would have needed a trampoline!
Q: Bohdan, you didn’t do the indoor season and your Facebook page shows the many places you have been during the winter, which ones did you like?
BB: I was recently training in Estonia for two weeks but I was also in South Africa in December, and it’s a good place but it was very cold in this month. Next time, I will go back to South Africa sometime from March to May, that’s a good time. It’s much hotter. At least then I could train outside, rather than inside. I can train inside in Ukraine. I did some fishing in South Africa (Bohdan is a keen fisherman). My friend from Latvia, Mara Griva, said you can find some good places for fishing and I had a good day.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF