Greece is in need of some good news these days, and Dmitrios Chonrokoukis delivered - literally in leaps and bounds with one of the bigger upset victories of these World Indoor Championships.
And after taking down a daunting field that included Olympic champion Andrey Silnov, defending World indoor champion Ivan Ukhov, and the World champion outdoors Jesse Williams, the unheralded 24-year-old from Athens who rode a 2.33m personal best to Greece’s first world title in the event, couldn’t have been happier.
“I am very happy and very lucky,” said Chonrokoukis whose indoor PB pre-Istanbul was a relatively modest 2.29m. “I did not expect to win at all and beat all these Olympic and World champions! If I am surprised? Of course! It was a very hard competition and I am grateful about my new PB.”
Chonrokoukis produced his first miss at 2.28m, a height that didn’t manage to eliminate any of the ten starters. He needed a second at a PB 2.31m, a height that managed to drop just two jumpers from the competition, but both big names: pre-meet favourite and World leader Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT) and Germany’s Raul Spank.
But he took the driver’s seat with his first attempt success at 2.33m, a height that only Silnov was able to master as well. Neither was particularly close at 2.35m, and after Silnov’s third miss, the Greek struck unlikely gold.
Ukhov, who topped 2.34m this season, took bronze on the countback at 2.31m over China’s Guowei Zhang the second Greek in the final, Konstadinos Baniotis, who tied for fourth. For Zhang his clearance was a national record and for Baniotis a season’s best.
Williams, who also topped 2.31m but needed all three tries, finished in a tie for sixth with Briton Robert Graberz.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF