Olympic champion Stefan Holm regained the World Indoor title he had secured for the third consecutive time four years ago in Budapest with a first time clearance at 2.36m after the Swede had all but a flawless competition in Valencia’s Velodrome tonight.
For a while it looked like defending champion Yaroslav Rybakov was going to retain his title with the lowest ever winning mark after he cleared 2.30m at his first attempt and none of the seven other athletes still in contention was able to master that height.
Indeed, as the third round at 2.30m started Holm, World bronze medallist Kyriakos Ioannou, 2005 World silver medallist Victor Moya, Americans Andra Manson and Jesse Williams and Canada’s Michael Mason had all registered two failures at this height.
Sitting patiently in the infield, and maybe with his thoughts already on a medal, Rybakov saw only three of his rivals remain in contention as Manson, Ioannou and Holm had a third time successful jump.
A two-time European Indoor champion, Holm seemed to be a whole different athlete from then on and managed to respond to Rybakov’s first time clearance at 2.32m with a massive first round effort at the same height.
Meanwhile Ioannou and Manson both failed quite badly and with 1990 European champion Dragutin Topic who had passed at 2.30 also failing, the final result saw the Cypriot and the American share the bronze medal.
The season’s World leader at 2.38, Rybakov needed two attempts to master 2.34 but that wasn’t going to be enough for the Russian to hold onto his World Indoor crown as the very experienced Holm started playing tactics.
He passed his second attempt at 2.34 in a desperate attempt to win his country’s first medal of the championships at a moment when it became public that World Indoor record holder Susanna Kallur had pulled out of the women’s 60m Hurdles semi final with a hamstring injury.
Holm had a superb attempt at 2.36 which ended Rybakov’s dream, the Russian failing once at 2.36 and twice at 2.38.
With victory secured, and while a Swedish flag was thrown at him from the crowd, Holm approached the judges to ask for the bar to be raised at a would be national record 2.41.
But it wasn’t going to be and Holm’s personal best will remain his memorable 2.40m clearance on the Madrid Indoor track to win the 2005 European Indoor Championships.
Spain seems to be a lucky country for the 31-year-old Swede.
"From the beginning of the competition all my hopes were set on winning," said Holm. "I got more and more confident, especially after the second jump. The Spanish spectators were as excellent in Valencia as they were in Madrid."
"It's a fact that, as I get older, it gets a bit harder to win medals. I wanted to improve my PB, but in the end I had to give up. I am really satisfied with my title and I keep myself motivated."
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF
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