Blanka Vlasic reacts after coming extremely close to breaking the world high jump record (Getty Images) © Copyright
Shortly before Usain Bolt took the 200m the Jamaican found time to watch Vlasic’s final jump shown on the big screen above the bend where he was to start. And he reacted in agony, grabbing his head, when the Croatian star just missed clearing the height of 2.10m.
But since Vlasic had cleared 2.04m earlier she and Bolt have once more produced great results this season. But they had more in common in Greece on Sunday night. Both called it an end to standout seasons.
Competing at the other end of the stadium from Bolt’s 200 m start Vlasic made no mistake up to and including the height of 2.04m. Then she tried 2.10m three times and she seemed to move closer and closer to clearing the World record from attempt to attempt. If rules would have allowed a fourth jump, she might well have flown over.
“Who knows – maybe yes. But there are only three attempts,” Vlasic said, while her coach Bojan Marinovic analysed: “Blanka was just a couple of centimetres too close to the bar when she jumped off.”
Despite this small “mistake” Vlasic appeared to be happy and optimistic. “It will come one day if I stay healthy and can continue to train well – I have no doubts,” she answered, when asked about the World record. “I don’t have to put myself under pressure with this, I just have to jump relaxed. I know that I had good attempts at 2.10 today.” Despite her great late season form Vlasic did not regret her decision to end her season.
After a strong start to the 2009 season the 25 year-old Croatian seemed to lack form in June and July. But looking back at her great season Vlasic said: “I had bad luck at some events because the weather was not so good. But I was always convinced that I would come back jumping high.” Asked if it may be easier to concentrate on World record attempts next year because it will not be a season with global championships she replied: “ No, that makes no difference for me.”
Despite not clearing 2.10m Vlasic was clearly happy in Thessaloniki which she clearly illustrated by dancing on the track. Still watching on the other side of the stadium, that made Bolt change his pre-race programme. When the camera swept to him during the introduction of the 200m runners and the spectators went crazy, the World record holder did not play bow and arrow – instead he started dancing like Blanka! And taking into account that it was probably his first attempt he did extraordinary well in this non-athletics discipline as well.
Vlasic did not know that Bolt had followed all her world record attempts and even copied her dancing. When told in the mixed zone she just laughed. After producing superb highlights on what may have been the best day of the World Championships in Berlin last month the two again were crowd favourites on Sunday. Meeting directors of the 2010 events should be encouraged to sign both of them for maximum performance and entertainment. Athletics can hardly get any better – except maybe if both break their world records and then dance together!
For Bolt there is more dancing to come soon. And he is looking very forward to it. Not on the track though. “I will not miss running on the track when I am on holiday,” he answered when asked about his break after ending the season. “Now I am really happy that the season is over and I came through it without any injuries. When I will come home I will sleep and relax. I am not so much a beach person, I am staying more indoors. I listen to music and go to clubs sometimes.” But once he arrives in Kingston at the beginning of the week after two and a half months in Europe he probably can expect some welcome by fans and officials. “There will be a press conference with members of the government, but after that I will finally relax.”
After his final competition of the year Bolt was asked what he would choose if his coach would offer him either taking the Long Jump or the 400m. “I would go for the Long Jump,” the Jamaican replied. But regarding next year there are no plans yet. “I will talk with my coach what I will do next year.” There are plenty of options for Usain Bolt in 2010 – including more dancing on the track!
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF
- Blanka Vlasic reacts after coming extremely close to breaking the world high jump record (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Usain Bolt caps his season with a championship record-equalling performance of 19.68 in the 200m (Getty Images) © Copyright
- World champion Blanka Vlasic sets a competition record of 2.04m in the women's high jump (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Blanka Vlasic nudges the bar off on her final attempt at 2.10m (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Usain Bolt eases down slightly before the line in the 200m as the clock stops at 19.68 (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Usain Bolt kisses the Thessaloniki track to round out a fantastic 2009 campaign (Getty Images) © Copyright