Banska Bystrica, Slovakia - Russians captured both competitions at the Europa Shopping Centre High Jump meeting on Wednesday (8) evening in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia.
The men’s title was won with 2.33m on the final jump by Ivan Ukhov, while the women’s event was taken in somewhat less dramatic style by Anna Chicherova at 2.00m.
In baseball parlance, Ukhov scored a ‘walk-off home run’ by waiting until all other remaining competitors had been eliminated before clearing on his final attempt at 2.33m as the others watched helplessly. He then called for a would-be world-leading 2.37m and after two undistinguished tries, gave it a good effort to end the evening.
The Russian had been forced to go to a third attempt at 2.31m as well and was clearly not his dominant self tonight. Until Ukhov’s last-minute heroics, Daegu champion Jesse Williams was set to log his first-ever win in Banská Bystrica but had to again settle for second place with a season-best 2.31m.
The big local story, however, belonged to Slovak jumper Michal Kabelka, who improved his indoor PB a staggering three times to end at 2.31m for the evening as he ended in a tie for third with Greece’s Kostadinos Baniotis. Baniotis himself came close to stealing the win on his second jump at 2.33m which was whisker-close.
Kabelka had the crowd in his hand from the moment he cleared a PB 2.25m to erase a three-year-old 2.24m career best. The 27-year-old followed with a first-jump clearance at 2.28m and a second-attempt success at 2.31m, only one centimetre away from the Slovak national record. Amazingly, his outdoor PB stands at only a meager 2.21m for the moment.
Jaroslav Baba had a perfect record through 2.28m before deciding to pass 2.31m. The strategy probably cost the Czech at least one place as he ended in fifth.
Chicherova tops 2.00m again
In the women’s competition, Chicherova won as predicted but her winning height of 2.00m was significantly less than the world-leading 2.06m she registered only four days ago. No one expected the Russian to put together back-to-back performances at that level, especially after only three days’ rest. Last Saturday’s performance in Arnstadt was only the fifth time in history that 2.06m had been equalled or surpassed. Enormous jumps like that do not generally occur in clusters.
The Daegu champion saw her last remaining rival, Belgium’s Tia Hellebaut, depart the competition at 1.98m and was jumping alone after that.
Chicherova’s night was blemish-free through the deciding height of 1.98m, with prior clearances at 1.85m, 1.90m and 1.96m. When the pressure was finally off she had a momentary lapse with a first-jump miss at 2.00m. But that was quickly corrected with a powerful clearance with much space to spare.
Moving the bar to 2.04m, the Russian ended the evening with three creditable but unsuccessful jumps.
Hellebaut, the Beijing Olympic gold medallist who is returning to action this season after maternity leave, sagged a bit at 1.93m and needed three attempts. But she summoned reserve energy at 1.96m with a first-try success to secure second place.
American Chaunté Lowe likewise used a first-jump clearance at 1.93m to take third place ahead of Italy’s Antonietta DiMartino on a countback.
Ed Gordon for the IAAF
1. Ukhov (RUS) 2.33 [2.15 – 2.25 – 2.31/3 – 2.33/3 – 2.37/xxx]
2. Williams (USA) 2.31 [2.20 – 2.25 – 2.28 – 2.31/2 – 2.33/xxx]
=3. Kabelka (SVK) 2.31 [2.10 – 2.15 – 2.20 – 2.25/2 – 2.28 – 2.31/2 – 2.33/xxx]
=3. Baniotis (GRE) 2.31 [2.15 – 2.20 – 2.25/2 – 2.28 – 2.31/2 – 2.33]
5. Baba (CZE) 2.28 [2.15 – 2.20 – 2.25 – 2.28 – 2.33/xxx]
6. Barry (BAH) 2.28 [2.15 – 2.20 – 2.25 – 2.28/2 – 2.31/xxx]
=7. Bondarenko (UKR)
=7. Chesani (ITA) 2.25
9. Bubenik (SVK) 2.25
10. Horak (SVK) 2.20
11. Shapoval (UKR) 2.20
12. Tamberi (ITA) 2.20
13. Beer (SVK) 2.15;
14. Klausen (DEN) 2.15
1. Chicherova (RUS) 2.00 [1.85 – 1.90 – 1.96 – 1.98 – 2.00/2 – 2.04/xxx]
2. Hellebaut (BEL) 1.96
3. Lowe (USA) 1.93
4. DiMartino (ITA) 1.93
5. Trost (ITA) 1.90
6. Spencer (LCA) 1.85
7. Melfort (FRA) 1.85
8. Dobrynska (UKR) 1.80
9. Kuntsevich (RUS) 1.80
10. Silnicova (CZE) 1.75