The start of the New Year is a happy one for pole vaulter Dmitry Starodubtsev.
Setting the tone for the 2012 season, the Russian, whose pole broke during the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, scaled 5.90m twice in December, on both occasions in his hometown of Chelyabinsk. [NOTE: Updated and corrected on 4-Jan-2012.]
His first success came on 17 December at the City Indoor Championships and then again on 29 December at the city's Student Championships. It was a massive improvement for the former prodigy – he’ll celebrate his 26th birthday on Tuesday (3 Jan) – whose previous bests were 5.70m indoors and 5.75m outdoors, both from 2008.
Starodubtsev won World Youth silver in 2003 and struck World Junior gold in 2004, finished fifth at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and sixth at the 2010 World Indoor Championships. He won the Russian title indoors and finished second outdoors to earn his spot to Daegu where he finished 12th after managing just a 5.65m clearance.
Clearly exhibiting excellent form, Starodubtsev has lost several kilos and his run-in was reportedly excellent.
Naturally, his performance was also a world season best, topping his 5.70m clearance from Omsk on 24 December, and tied him with nine other vaulters as No. 17 on the all-time list.
Starodubtsev is planning to take part in the Lukashevitch Memorial on 9 January, also in Chelyabinsk. Two events are on the program – the High Jump and Pole Vault.
[Note 2: A preview version of this story incorrectly reported that the Chelyabinsk Student Championships were held on 1 January. We regret the error.]
Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF