The expectations were high and the competitors delivered with solid early season form at the opening leg of the three-stop Moravia Daylong High Jump tour in Hustopece, Czech Republic on Saturday (20). Andrey Tereshin of Russia won's the men's contest with a 2.33m leap, an early-season world leading performance, while Croatia's Blanka Vlasic out-duelled European championships silver medallist Venelina Veneva as each topped out at 1.96.
While 11 men cleared 2.20, it was Tereshin, the World Indoor Championships silver medallist, who stood head and shoulders above the field. Still struggling to find the proper approach and technique, only six cleared 2.24, and only Slovak Peter Horak joined the Russian after a first attempt success at 2.27. Others not making the cut included Helsinki silver medallist Victor Moya from Cuba, who after twice narrowly missing 2.27, added another narrow miss at 2.30.
Spectators, more than 1000 who packed the venue, enjoyed the dramatic climax when Tereshin on his last attempt clearly mastered 2.30 to take the win and avoiding a jump-off with Horak. He then added a 2.33 clearance on his third attempt, before ending the competition. The 24-year-old has only jumped higher twice, with 2.36 and 2.35 clearances last winter.
"I'm sorry," he said, citing fatigue, "I cannot jump more. It was so tough. I need to save my energy for the second meet and I must be careful because I had a small injury recently and I started to feel something. Hopefully I will be able to jump in Ostrava on Tuesday."
Fine early season duel on the women's programme, equalling world lead
The women's competition was from the start a great duel between two silver medallists. The Bulgarian Veneva, second last summer in Gothenburg, was flying high, but had technical difficulties with the timing of her take-off, needing a pair of attempts at both 1.80 and 1.87 and three tries at 192. Adjusting, she cleared 1.94 and 1.96 with her first. She then finished with three solid attempts at 1.98, the last a clear success until she touched the bar on the jump's final phase.
In the meantime, her younger rival and Moscow silver medallist Blanka Vlasic saved her energy, choosing to jump at every second height. After needing three shots at 1.92, she cleared 1.96 with her first, then passing 1.98 before resuming at 2.00m. Her final attempt was the closest, with the bar coming down after she was already resting on the landing pit; organisers will have to wait for the first-ever indoor two metre jump on Czech soil.
She nonetheless set a new meeting record, adding a centimetre to the mark set by Russian Olga Kaliturina in 2005.
"I'm so tired after my training camp in Poland. That is why I tried to save my energy and passed some heights," said Vlasic, who arrived in the Czech town directly from an intensive training stint. "Overall I am satisfied, it is only the beginning of the season, and I have many meetings before me. And two metres was so close."
Veneva too was in good spirits, after arriving directly from her training base in Budapest.
"I didn't jumped at such an indoor jumping meet since 2002 and so it was something special for me," said Veneva. "I had to fight with my technique and I think better results will come very soon."
Both will next jump in Brussels on 27 January.
The surprise of the evening was the young Russian Yekaterin Kuntsevich from Yekaterinburg. She clered all heights including a new indoor PB 1.94 on her first attempt before bowing out at 1.96. Overall, it was the best women's competition in the history of the tour with four jumpers over 1.92.
The tour now moves east to Ostrava, the site of the Golden Spike IAAF Grand Prix meeting, which this year will also host the IAAF World Youth Championships. The third "Ostravska latka" will be held on Tuesday (23), with World champion Yuriy Krimarenko of Ukraine joining the men's field, and Emma Green of Sweden, the Helsinki bronze medallist, joining the women's field. Two World record holders, jan Zelezny and Javier Sotomayor, will be special guests.
At the final leg in Trinec on 25 January current European Indoor champion Anna Chicherova from Russia and Poland's Grzegorz Sposob are expected to compete.
Alfons Juck for the IAAF
1. Andrey Tereshin, RUS 2.33 WL (210/1, 215/1, 220/1,224/2, 227/1, 230/3, 233/3)
2. Peter Horák, SVK 2.27
3. Victor Moya, CUB 2.24
4. Aleksandr Shustov,RUS 2.24 - indoor PB
=5. Aleksey Dmitrik, RUS 2.24
=5. Viktor Shapoval, UKR 2.24
=7. Stanislav Malyarenko, RUS 2.20
=7. Tomas Janku 2.20
=9. Andrea Bettinelli, ITA 2.20
=9. Svatoslav Ton, CZE 2.20
11. Kwaku Boateng, CAN 2.20
12. Jaroslav Baba 2.15
13. Ben Challenger, GBR 2.15
14. Lubos Benko, SVK 2.10
15. Jiri Krehula 2.10
1. Blanka Vlasic, CRO 1.96 [=WL], Meeting Record (180/1, 187/1, 192/3, 196/1, 200/xxx)
2. Venelina Veneva, BUL 1.96 [=WL], Meeting Record (175/1, 180/2, 184/1, 187/2, 190/1, 192/3, 194/1, 196/1, 198/xxx)
3. Yekaterina Kuntsevich, RUS 1.94 indoor PB (175/1, 180/1, 184/1, 187/1, 190/1, 192/1, 194/1, 196/xxx)
4. Marina Aitova, KAZ 1.92
=5. Romana Dubnova, CZE 1.87
=5. Oana Pantelimon, ROM 1.87
=7. Andrea Ispan, ROM 1.80
=7. Svetlana Shkolina, RUS 1.80
9. Maresa Cadienhead, CAN 1.80
10. Elena Brambilla, ITA 1.75