At the jubilee 20th staging of the Europa SC high jump competition in Banska Bystrica, Slovak Republic, Mutaz Essa Barshim found himself in the unenviable position of needing to jump 2.36m in order to avoid defeat.
But there was method in his madness of playing the waiting game, as the Olympic bronze medallist was competing with a slight pain in his back. With World silver medallist Aleksey Dmitrik already finished for the evening, but with a best height of 2.32m, Barshim could only rely on a successful 2.30m jump after which he had passed the next two heights.
The Qatari’s first attempt at 2.36m was mostly unremarkable, but his second jump only missed because of a slight calf nudge. A glance to his coach brought a slight gesture of the hand which indicated the needed adjustment. It worked, and with just his fifth leap of the competition Barshim scored his second victory over his biggest rival of the season.
It was Barshim’s sixth competition of the year so far, having won all but one of those and jumping at least 2.30m in all six appearances. “When I’m healthy, I will come back and jump high,” he said.
Barshim and Dmitrik were expected to joust for the top spot. What was not expected was that 20-year-old Italian Gianmarco Tamberi, complete with a quick pre-competition green hair colouring, would choose this evening to set three indoor personal bests.
This was not matter of scraping by each time as the Ancona native leaped 2.26m, 2.28m, and 2.30m all on his first attempts before exiting at a would-be Italian indoor record of 2.32m. By virtue of his great performance tonight, Tamberi has now surpassed his father and coach, Marco Tamberi (2.28m in 1983), on the Italian indoor all-time list.
Indoor specialist Konstadinos Baniotis of Greece also found the environment conducive to a season’s best 2.30m as he placed fourth on a count-back ahead of Czech Jaroslav Baba, also his high point of the 2013 season.
Tamberi’s countryman Silvano Chesani also set a season’s best, jumping 2.28m for sixth.
Ed Gordon for the IAAF
1 Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT) 2.36m
2 Aleksey Dmitrik (RUS) 2.32m
3 Gianmarco Tamberi (ITA) 2.30m
4 Konstadinos Baniotis (GRE) 2.30m
5 Jaroslav Baba (CZE) 2.30m
6 Silvano Chesani (ITA) 2.28m
7 Donald Thomas (BAH) 2.26m
8 Peter Horak (SVK) 2.23m
9 Lukas Beer (SVK) 2.20m
10 Jesse Williams (USA) 2.20m