Yaroslav Rybakov confirmed his status as world leader by equalling his best this year of 2.37m to take gold. Second was fellow-Russian, Andrey Tereshin, 2.35, while a coming-of-age bronze was clinched by 21-year-old Swede Linus Thörnblad, 2.33.
By the time the bar had been put up to 2.30 there were four men sharing the lead with a perfect card: Thörnblad, world season leader from Russia and double outdoor World silver medallist, Rybakov, last summer’s surprise World silver Victor Moya of Cuba and Andrey Tereshin of Russia.
Meanwhile, triple World Indoor champion Stefan Holm was struggling to get over after two failures. It looked like a changing of the guard for Sweden, but the 29-year-old Olympic champion survived at the death for a season’s best.
The first serious contender to drop by the wayside was the 2001 World Indoor silver, Andrey Sokolovsky of the Ukraine, who could not get past 2.30 having jumped 2.36 this winter. He was followed by 2.31 performer, Giulio Ciotti, of Italy.
At 2.33, Thörnblad cleared first, to go within one centimetre of his all-time best. At the age of 21 he was leading the final, but at no stage did the youngster seem overawed. Rybakov followed suit to join him in the lead. Moya, who only had an indoor best of 2.23 coming into Moscow and had improved that by seven centimetres, failed for the first time at this height.
After an initial failure, Moya and Holm decided to keep their powder dry and test the others’ nerves for a try at 2.35. Thörnblad came tantalisingly close for what would have been an all-time best, but Rybakov’s nerve held and he swept majestically into gold with a good clearance. The Swede was unable to respond, but Tereshin did, provoking a Russian jump-off.