Having been out of the championship arena since 2011, Blanka Vlasic had reason to be excited upon her long-awaited return.
Twice a world champion both indoors and out, the 30-year-old Croatian was doing handstands on the infield throughout the qualifying competition in the ERGO Arena.
It was all just part of the 2008 Olympic silver medallist’s preparation routine, of course, but it was wonderful to see the great show-woman of the high jump getting back into the groove after missing London 2012 and the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow because of joint reconstruction to her left heel.
It proved to be a far from routine session for Vlasic. Last week she returned to something approaching her old form with a 2.00m clearance in Prague and there were no signs of trouble as she sailed over 1.84m and 1.92m at the first time of asking.
When the bar was raised to the qualifying height of 1.95m, however, Vlasic dislodged the upright at her first attempt and that clearly jolted her out of her stride.
Two further failures left her sweating down in seventh in the pecking order but she squeaked through to the final by the narrowest of margins, finishing joint eighth with European junior heptathlon champion Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium.
The veteran Spaniard Ruth Beita, competing in her eighth World Indoor Championships, was the only one of the 17 jumpers to register a perfect card. The 2013 world bronze medallist, 34, was one of seven women to clear 1.95m – together with 2014 world indoor leader Mariya Kuchina of Russia, Germany’s Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch, Emma Green Tregaro of Sweden, the Polish pair Justyna Kasprzycka and Kamila Liwinko and the inspired Levern Spencer, who made a three-centimetre advance on her St Lucian indoor record.
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF