Bohdan Bondarenko

Athlete Profile

    Ukraine Ukraine
    30 AUG 1989
Bogdan Bondarenko in the high jump at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (Getty Images)

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
High Jump 2.42 New York City (Icahn), NY 14 JUN 2014

Personal Best - Indoor

Performance Wind Place Date
High Jump 2.27 Lódz 04 FEB 2009
High Jump 2.27 Torino (Oval Lingotto) 06 MAR 2009

Progression - Outdoor

High Jump

Performance Place Date
2016 2.37 Monaco (Stade Louis II) 15 JUL
2015 2.37 Kawasaki (Todoroki Stadium) 10 MAY
2014 2.42 New York City (Icahn), NY 14 JUN
2013 2.41 Moskva (Luzhniki) 15 AUG
2013 2.41 Lausanne (Pontaise) 04 JUL
2012 2.31 Mykolaiv 17 JUN
2011 2.30 Ostrava 17 JUL
2009 2.15 Warszawa 07 JUN
2009 2.15 Montgeron 10 MAY
2009 2.15 Dakar 18 APR
2008 2.26 Bydgoszcz (Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak) 13 JUL
2007 2.19 Zhukovsky 09 JUN
2006 2.26 Beijing (Chaoyang Sport Center) 17 AUG
2005 2.15 Yalta 26 SEP

Progression - Indoor

High Jump

Performance Place Date
2012 2.25 Banská Bystrica 08 FEB
2009 2.27 Torino (Oval Lingotto) 06 MAR
2009 2.27 Lódz 04 FEB
2007 2.25 Kyiv 28 FEB
2006 2.21 Kyiv 10 JAN

Honours - High Jump

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
The XXXI Olympic Games 3 2.33 Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico) 16 AUG 2016
15th IAAF World Championships 2 2.33 Beijing (National Stadium) 30 AUG 2015
2nd IAAF Continental Cup 2014 1 2.37 Marrakech (Le Grande Stade) 13 SEP 2014
14th IAAF World Championships 1 2.41 Moskva (Luzhniki) 15 AUG 2013
The XXX Olympic Games 7 2.29 London (Olympic Stadium) 07 AUG 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 8q1 2.28 Daegu (DS) 30 AUG 2011
12th IAAF World Junior Championships 1 2.26 Bydgoszcz (Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak) 13 JUL 2008
11th IAAF World Junior Championships 3 2.26 Beijing (Chaoyang Sport Center) 17 AUG 2006

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Updated 4 August 2016


Bohdan BONDARENKO, Ukraine (High Jump)


Born: 30 August 1989, Kharkiv

Height: 1.97m

Weight: 77kg

Lives: Kharkiv

Club: Dynamo

Coach: Viktor Bondarenko


He dreams to have his personal island and BMW3 Grand Turismo car and smiles “It would be more than enough to add to these dreams High Jump World Record over 2.46 or 2.50m”. His athletics motto sounds little bit strange. “It’s much better to overeat than not have enough sleep”. At least all extraordinary persons have bit different thoughts, habits and aspirations.


Bohdan Bondarenko was born in a sports family. His father Viktor is a former decathlete with a 7500 PB and 2.16m result in High Jump. Although Bondarenko Sr. worked as coach in athletics, young Bohdan took a great interest in folk dance and turned in his father’s footsteps only at the age of 13. He joined Yevgeniy Nikitin’s group and after 2 mounts of training cleared 1.55m in High Jump. Tall Bohdan had a great progression in this discipline and in 2004 he jumped over 2m and one year later, Bondarenko already represented Ukraine at the European Youth Olympic Festival, in Lignano, where he became an unexpected silver medallist with a 2.12m PB.


In 2006, Bondarenko progressed to another level of results. On 10 January he set the indoor national youth record, clearing 2.21m and took courage when he became the clear leader among young Ukrainian athletes. In summer he won the Gymnasiade in Thessaloniki, with a new competition record of 2.20m and 20 days later competed at the senior National championships for the first time in his career. He was only a 16-year-old when took silver among adult jumpers, showed outstanding fighting spirit and achieved a 2.25 PB. Seeing his talent and fighting qualities, coaches decided to put his name into the National team’s list for the World Junior Championships in Beijing.


“It was my first ‘test’ at so high international level” Bondarenko says. “I didn’t expect some super achievements in Beijing and made very many attempts on the way to my new personal best, 2.26m, but I didn’t give up and fought till the final jump. After I finished 3rd at my first Junior Worlds, I understood that I can jump much higher.”


The gifted athlete was spotted by athletes’ representative Aivar Karotamm and they started their teamwork from August 2006. Winter season 2007 was very promising, as Bohdan brought his indoor record to 2.25. But injuries started to pursue him very often. Feet, groins, knees… He wanted to miss the summer season but agreed to help the Ukrainian team at the European Junior championships, in Hengelo, where he was able to clear 2.14m in the final and finished 9th only. Bondarenko tried to find the causes of his problems. He asked his coach to revise their training plans, but after some discords in their vision of future practices, Bohdan decided to end his collaboration with Yevgeniy Nikitin and change coach. At the end of summer 2007 Bondarenko moved to the group of his father.


Knee injury didn’t allow him to make elementary technical exercises. Before the 2008 World Junior championships, Bondarenko had very few jumping trainings, but he went to Bydgoszcz aiming to get a medal. “I felt very strong physically, but I wasn’t sure that my injured knee will stand the test of high competitions loadings. Moreover, I was depressed by the fact that my results didn’t improve during the year. In Bydgoszcz I felt like a walker on the razor's edge. I tried to use minimum attempts, as I knew each of my jumps could become the last one. That is why I was extremely glad when I jumped 2.26 and won on grit at my second Junior Worlds,” Bondarenko says.


After successful treatment and a little rest, Bondarenko had a long preparation period for the winter season 2009. He felt much better and stronger than the previous summer, but at the end of November he sprained his ankle and had to put his leg in a plaster. “I didn’t want to use crutches and moved everywhere jumping on the take-off leg,” Bohdan explains. “Nothing so bad, as not to be good for something. Jumping all the days I trained my take-off leg perfectly. As a result I set my indoor personal best straight away at my first indoor meeting in Lodz, clearing 2.27. But when I agreed to perform at the European Indoor Championships in Torino, I made my biggest mistake.”


In Torino, Bondarenko went through the qualifications and jumped easily 2.27, but in final he was able to clear 2.20 only, because of strong pain in the foot. Half the year he trained and competed being injured. Bohdan achieved 2.15m at 8 of the 9 meetings he competed in that summer. He was utterly exhausted, physically and mentally.


“My manager organised for me medical examination in Finland,” Bondarenko says. “Results were deplorable. Ligaments of my take-off foot were broken and there were many painful new growths in the other foot. So in October I had my first surgery on the take-off foot and one and half months later, I was operated on a second time on both feet.”


Bondarenko had his first training after surgery in April 2010. It was a very short jog, from which Bohdan began the second part of his athletics career. All the year he trained in a special leather boot, with plastic strengthening keeping his foot more or less fixed. He even contrived to compete in this boot at the National Universiade on 15 October and cleared 2.10m in Yalta, but the pain was stronger than before. Bondarenko gave his up to despair and even thought about retirement, but he knew he had to repay for his surgeries.


On January 2011, Bohdan came back to the competition field and cleared 2.20 at the Kharkiv Region’s Cup, but felt new pain in the foot, which was diagnosed as a result of inadequate loadings. More than 2 months he was the permanent client of different doctors, making numerous X-rays, radiographies, scans and treatments. At last the immovable foot ossified and Bohdan had to make a shock action course and postpone the start of his training for one month more. In spring training camps 2011, Bondarenko just recovered making strengthening exercises. At the end of April he began usual practices but tore slightly the hamstring jumping from the ‘wing’ leg.


“It really was too much” Bondarenko sums up. “I already didn’t remember the time when I was fully healthy and could jump free of pain. I wanted to prepare for the summer season 2011, as I knew it was the last year I could compete in U23 category. With great difficulty I have achieved the standard for the European U23 Championships, jumped over 2.26 in Reims just 10 days before the Ostrava event. As I still felt a little pain, I didn’t have jumping practices and perfected my technical skills at different meetings only.”


At the European U23 Championships in Ostrava, Bondarenko made unbelievable things. After such a long break full of treatments and pain, he not only took first place, but set a new personal best clearing 2.30. He was sure that was his ticket to the World Championships, but the head coach of the Ukrainian team set him an indispensable condition: “If you want to go to Daegu, you must win the National Championships.” And Bondarenko did it, and achieved 2.28 in Donetsk on 4 August. 12 days later he won the World University Games in Shenzhen, repeated his victorious results from the Nationals. And again… 12 days later Bohdan performed in the qualification round of the World Championships in South Korea.


“I had no time for recovering and it was too silly to hope for any solid result in Daegu,” Bondarenko says. “Moreover I fell from a bicycle in the athletes’ village and injured my Achilles. Thank God it wasn’t the take-off leg so I could jump, though I felt the pain during all the competitions. As a result my jump over 2.28 was not enough to make the final. Another year in my career passed ingloriously.”   


Bondarenko spent all of the year 2012 battling injuries. He achieved the Olympic A standard (2.31) on 17 June at a small high jump meeting in Mykolaiv, competing with strong pain in the take-off foot. But he was an absolute disaster at the European Championships in Helsinki, where he jumped 2.23 in qualification and only 2.15 in the final.


“I decided to withdraw from all competitions till the London Olympics and treated the foot by all possible and impossible methods. Unfortunately, after 1.5 months of treatment I came to London still feeling the pain,” Bondarenko states. “Although 2.26 was enough to achieve the Olympic final, I felt terrible. My foot was burning! Unfortunately, our team doctor had to be in hospital with another athlete and I remained alone with my injury problem. I just put a hot plaster with snake venom and waited for the final.”


The changeable London weather gave Bohdan another great experience. He had never competed under the rain before the London Olympic final and faced in the field another problem. His run-up cardinally changed because of the wet surface and Bogdan had to fight not only with pain and rivals, but with the uncomfortable technical feeling. That is why he was so glad to clear 2.29m and to take 7th place in the London final.


After 2 months’ rest, Bondarenko started his preparation for the next year season, aiming for indoor performances. His first training camp outside the Ukraine was fantastic! “I never had such training conditions like in Portugal and I worked there with double inspiration. We laid the great foundation for future technical practices, but all our plans were ruined at the beginning of January, when I tried to jump over 2.29 at Kharkiv Indoor Cup. Pain in the foot appeared again so suddenly and strongly, like a first tsunami wave and I began treatment again,” Bondarenko says.


Bohdan resumed his preparation in March only and opened his summer season 2013 with victory at the Doha Diamond league event, clearing his PB 2.33m. “I was very surprised,” Bondarenko says. “I had two pre-season training camps in Yevpatoriya where I injured my take-off knee at the end of April. I was able to make only one technical practice one week before my first season’s performance. Moreover, in Doha I felt discomfort not only in the knee, but also in the feet I have operated in 2009. Weak pain accompanied me on all attempts, but such physical conditions became usual for me during last three years.”


Nevertheless Bondarenko repeated 2.33 one week later at the Shanghai Diamond League event and then won all meetings where he performed, including the European Team championships in Gateshead on 22 June. At the Lausanne Diamond League meeting, Bohdan set a new national record of 2.41 (the previous one belonged to former WR-holder Rudolf Povarnitsyn from August 1985) and became world leader. He also tried to break the WR at the Swiss meeting and his second attempt on 2.46m was very close to being successful. On 26 July he repeated his desperate attempt to break the WR again at the London Diamond League event, but that time he tried to jump over 2.47m.


“I still feel a little pain in the hip after being injured at the training camp in April, that is why I don’t work on the technique during trainings,” Bondarenko said before the World Championships in Moscow. “This season I make my jumping practices at competitions only. But I train much more than previous years and don’t intend to make any changes in my preparation. I enjoy my jumps and take pleasure from all competitions and I want to keep these feelings as long as possible.”


And he really kept them even in the Moscow World Champioships final, playing ‘tag’ with his main rivals in the field. Firstly, Bohdan shocked everyone when he started competition from an unbelievable 2.29. passing one height after another. But when he decided to pass 2.38, even his father and coach, Viktor, was about to faint. “That was a risky venture, but I knew he felt groin and back pain and had to be very careful,” Bondarenko’s father said after the event.


Fortunately, Bohdan repeated his personal best, and cleared 2.41 in the second attempt to take the major title in his career. Then he tried WR 2.46, once more asking the audience to keep the silence. “Usually, I ask spectators to support me, but not in case when I try to jump over World record. I need a full silence to be mega focusing. I felt thousands of eyes which were concentrated on me. It helped a lot in those special moments, but I didn’t feel like the center of the Universe,” Bondarenko smiles.  


Two weeks later, he won the Diamond League final in Zürich and finished first in the DL race.


Answering the question about reasons of his great breakthrough in results, Bondarenko just shrugged his shoulders. “Don't stop chasing your dreams!  Even if you have few bumps on a road, keep going... I am happy that, even after my surgeries, I did,” he said confusedly.


After Bondarenko’s victory at the World Championships, the Kharkiv city authorities promised to grant to him a new flat. “After great summer season 2013, my life was changed perceptibly. I had much more attention, first of all from different media. It’s very pleasant to have numerous interviews, press-conferences and award ceremonies, but to be honest, I felt exhausted very soon, as after season. I even hadn’t any valuable vacations and spent only three day at the seaside near Yevpatoriya,” Bondarenko recalls.


Having started preparation for the next season much later than usual, Bohdan decided to miss the indoor season and spent a lot of time in different training camps in Crimea, Portugal and Italy. The political situation in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea caused huge changes in his spring preparation. For the first time, he went to a South African training camp and was pretty satisfied with training conditions in RSA. They made huge changes in the usual preparation system.


“First of all, we decided to try altitude training for the first time, to improve Bohdan’s fitness. I think two years before Olympics is a very right time for experiments and innovations in training methods. Second, we tested a new training camp in South Africa and were very satisfied with technical work and volumes we could make there. Unfortunately, there are some very effective, useful and necessary exercises we had to avoid because we don’t want to provoke relapses of Bohdan’s old injuries. In short, we didn’t want to risk. Nevertheless, all training tests show that now Bohdan gained the same shape as he had last year,” Bohdan’s father underlined after they came back home.


While Bondarenko was abroad, at annual official award ceremony “Heroes of Sport Year 2013”, the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine named Bondarenko “Best Sportsman of the Year”. Bohdan just sent video greeting to all winners and participants of the ceremony and even didn’t know what special presents waited for him.  50 000 UAH (about 4000USD) and new car Bondarenko received much later, but was very surprised with so such high appreciation of his achievements.


Bondarenko started impressive the 2014 summer season by clearing a huge 2.40 in Tokyo on 11 May. One month later, he took a very beautiful and dramatic win over Mutaz Essa Barshim at the New York Diamond League meeting, where both athletes set personal bests and national records of 2.42 as Bohdan equalled the European Record (Note: set by Patrick Sjöberg in 1987) and Barshim set a new Asian one. Later Bondarenko confessed that more than one week before that meeting, he had discomfort in the thigh, but the pain disappeared a couple day before his performance in USA. “I was in great conditions and had to jump higher than 2.42, but I got tired with protracted competitions. Moreover, it’s not easy to jump if you have so big pressure and everyone waits World Record jump from me at each competition.”


Bondarenko then won two more Diamond League meetings, clearing 2.40 in Lausanne on 3 July and in Monaco on 18 July. He definitely needed a little rest from competitions, preparing to European championships. But Bohdan didn’t join the training camp of national team in Koncha Zaspa, continuing his preparation in his native Kharkiv.


“We preferred to prepare in domestic surroundings. In Kharkiv we have all facilities for full-fledged practices and quiet atmosphere,” said his coach, and noted that Bohdan still had some health problems. “Nothing too serious, but I couldn’t say that Bohdan was absolutely healthy and ready for championships a hundred per cent. Some problems still disturbed him but in spite of that, he was ready for good performance and big fight in Zürich.”


At European the championships, Ukraine had double triumph in the men’s high jump. 2.35 was enough for Bondarenko to win the gold medal, while Andriy Protsenko took second place. After coming back to Ukraine Bohdan noted that rainy and cold weather in Zürich didn’t allow him to continue competitions at 2.43. “It was like you have been preparing to participate in some super sport car race for the whole year, but on the appointed day, weather and course didn’t allow you to drive more than 50 km/h.” He also confessed that discomfort in his operated foot still disturbs him. “That is such kind of injury, I have to accept and just try to do not aggravate it more.”


After the major event of the season, Bondarenko focused on taking his second overall win in the Diamond League Race. Even after Bohdan lost to Barshim in Birmingham on countback (2.38 both), he led the race before the final. But in Brussels, he lost again, even with a perfect 2.40 jump, while Barshim set a new Asian record with 2.43. “Of course, I wanted to win, whatever the cost, but had to be satisfied for the second place too! And I looked forward for our next duel and my requital at the Continental Cup in Marrakech,” Bondarenko smiles.


Bohdan answered Barshim with his confident win at the Le Grande Stade on 13 September. Bondarenko was the only one in the field who cleared 2.37m. Barshim went over 2.34m only and was beaten even by Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov on countdown.


“Everyone of us wanted to do something special, like a new World record, to finish the season with a big advantage, but we all felt too tired after such a tough and intensive season. It was a big honour for me to represent Team Europe at the Continental Cup and that is why it was very important to win there. That victory made me more confident for the next season,” Bondarenko said.


Bohdan understood that he had many things to improve in his technique to raise the bar higher than in 2014, but he definitely needed much more time for preparation. That is why Bondarenko skipped the indoor season 2015, preparing for his summer battle with the gifted Qatari.


A 2.37m clearance at the opening competition in Japan on 10 May 2015 raised expectations for the next enthralling and strong season in the men’s high jump, but some trouble awaited Bondarenko already in June. At the high jump show, organised by the First European Games LOC at the central square in Baku, Bohdan sprained his take-off ankle. He had a long recovery and even thought to skip the Beijing World Championships, as the ankle was still painful enough and new back problems didn’t allow to do any training at all. Finally, the coaches made the decision that Bohdan should go to China, if even he would be forced to withdraw from competition at the last moment. 


Bondarenko had the first jumping practice after injury a very few days before the World Championships, already at the training stadium in Beijing. “I have two pieces of news. The first of them is good, but second one is bad,” smiled Bohdan, leaving the training area. “Good news, - I can jump. Bad one, - not very high.”


Nevertheless, he easily passed through qualification at the Bird’s Nest Stadium, clearing 2.31m in his first attempt. “How did I feel? Disorientation! It was my first in-competition jump in two months! I couldn’t distinguish between my legs and arms being in air,” Bondarenko continued in his comic style. “Am I ready to fight for medals? For sure! But only in case somebody presents me wings.”


Later, after the men’s high jump final on 30 August, the day of his 26th birthday, Bohdan confessed that “it looks like I did get such a gift, but only one wing instead of two.”


It was the first time in World Championships history that three male high jumpers (Canadian Derek Drouin, Chinese Zhang Guowei and Bohdan Bondarenko) cleared the same height (2.33m) using the same number of jumps. The winner should be decided in a jump-off. All three athletes missed their tries at 2.36, so the bar went back down. Drouin’s successful attempt over 2.34m brought him on the top of the podium. Bondarenko and Guowei shared second place.


It was one of the last medal ceremonies of the Beijing Worlds and the organisers mixed up the medals. Only on his way to the airport, Bohdan realised that he had received the silver medal of the Chinese jumper.


“I wrote about this confusion in my Facebook page immediately. Thank God, Zhang took his medal to the Diamond League Final in Zürich and we exchanged our medals. I was really happy, because this World Championships’ silver is the greatest ever present for my birthday. In Daegu 2011, I was also competing on 30 August, but I didn’t manage to go through the qualification that day. So, I improved a lot. Of course, a gold medal would be much better, but in Beijing I was happy I could jump at all. People says that appetite comes with eating and that is true. Even being injured, I felt I could jump over 2.36. I was strong mentally, but some technical mistakes didn’t allow me to clear the bar. I had a jump-off for the first time in my career and I learned a lot from that. Now I know that I should be prepared not only for high and strong jumps, but also for a large number of jumps. Honestly, it was too difficult for a person who only made a couple of training jumps over the whole season,” Bondarenko recalls.


Bohdan competed  in the rest of the 2015 season just for fun, but managed to clear 2.30 and 2.31, at the Zürich Diamond League final and in Rovereto respectively.


Then after a long enough rest, with special recovery after injures, Bondarenko decided to skip the indoor season, as in previous years, to prepare more carefully for the Olympic season. He used a convenient schedule of training camps, traveling to Portugal, Turkey, Spain and South Africa, but old health problems influenced his preparation.


Bondarenko opened his 2016 summer season with a modest 2.28 at the Shanghai Diamond League on 14 May, but improved by 3cm at the next meeting in Rabat and then cleared 2.33 in Rome, winning all three Diamond League stages.


“The European Championships in Amsterdam weren’t in my competitions plan. I had to compete at the beginning of the season just to check my shape and my mistakes. Then I needed time for homework. I returned into the field one and half months later, when I cleared 2.37 and took second place at the Herculis DL meeting in Monaco. confirmed I felt really strong physically, but must improve a lot in technical details. I hope I have enough time before the Rio Olympics to correct my jump. There isn’t an obvious favourite in our event this year. Only the competition in Rio will answer the question of who could be most prepared for victory at the right time,” said Bondarenko from his pre-Olympic training camp in Natal, Brazil.     


In 2013, Bohdan Bondarenko graduated from Kharkiv National Institute of Sports and Physical Culture. His younger brother Roman (1995 year of birth) is also a high jumper but with a modest PB 2.00.


Personal Best

High Jump: 2.42 (2014) AR=


Yearly Progression

High Jump (outdoors/indoors): 2005: 2.15/2.05i; 2006: 2.26/2.21i; 2007: 2.19/2.25i; 2008: 2.26/-; 2009: 2.15/2.27i; 2010: 2.10/-; 2011: 2.30/2.20i; 2012: 2.31/2.25i; 2013: 2.41 NR/2.26i; 2014: 2.42 AR=/- ; 2015: 2.37/-; 2016: 2.37/-.  


Career Highlights

2005   2nd       European Youth Olympic Festival, Lignano                   2.12                           

2006   3rd        World Junior Championships, Beijing                           2.26

2007   9th        European Junior Championships, Hengelo,                   2.14

2008   1st        World Junior Championships, Bydgoszcz                      2.26

2009   9th        European Indoor Championships, Torino                      2.20 (2.27 Q)

2011   1st        European U23 Championships, Ostrava                        2.30

2011   1st        World University Games, Shenzhen                              2.28

2011   q          World Championships, Daegu                                       2.28

2012   11th     European Championships, Helsinki                                2.15 (2.23 Q)

2012   7th        Olympic Games, London                                             2.29

2013   1st        European Team Championships, Gateshead                   2.28

2013   1st        World Championships, Moscow                                     2.41

2013   1st        Diamond League Race

2014   1st        European Championships, Zürich                                   2.35

2014   1st        Continental Cup, Marrakech                                          2.37

2014   2nd       Diamond League Race                                                                 

2015   2nd       World Championships, Beijing                                       2.33


Prepared by Liudmyla Iakusheva for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2013-2016.