The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
It took just short of two hours to determine the names of the 12 athletes who will line-up for Saturday evening’s women’s High Jump final.
Seven athletes had an easy day at the office this morning as they recorded no failures on their way to qualification which in the end would be guaranteed at 1.93 for them.
Defending Olympic champion Tia Hellebaut who has taken not one but two maternity breaks since becoming the first ever Belgian female athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in an athletics event four years ago needed only three jumps to secure her place in the final.
It was just as straightforward for the reigning World champion Anna Chicherova who stands at the top of the season’s World list since winning the Russian title with a 2.03 clearance. 30-year-old Chicherova, who is herself the mother of 2-year-old Nika, is looking to improve on her bronze medal from Beijing 2008.
World Indoor champion Chaunte Lowe, also a mother of two with her youngest daughter born in April 2011, opened at 1.80 and had first round clearances at 1.85, 1.90 and 1.93, a clean card which guaranteed the US record holder a second successive Olympic final following her sixth place from Beijing.
European champion Ruth Beitia of Spain will also be making her second appearance in an Olympic final – she was equal seventh in Beijing – and she qualified in style needing just three jumps to advance.
The other qualifiers with clean sheets included Sweden’s Emma Green-Tregaro, a two-time European medallist, France’s national record holder Melanie Melfort and Russia’s number 2 Svetlana Shkolina.
With 14 athletes still in contention when the bar was raised at the automatic qualification standard 1.96 lively discussions started between athletes and in-field judges to determine whether or not the additional height would be required to make the cut.
After lengthy negotiations and careful studies of the standings chart, all seven athletes with clean cards decided to pass as they were guaranteed to be in the top-12 with Turkey’s Burcu Ayhan, Brigetta Barrett of the USA and Lithuania’s Airine Palsyte who were the next three in the overall standings having recorded just one failure at 1.93 throughout the qualification, also opting to pass at 1.96.
"There was a lot of strategy out there for a place. They were all going 'let's just try and qualify altogether because there are 12 places'," explained Barrett.
"There were two people left to jump and I was worried because I was the first to jump. I was like 'OK, I wonder if I've qualified'. I'm not doing that again."
That left four women in contention for just two places in the final and after needing three attempts to sail over 1.93 former World Junior champion Svetlana Radzivil of Uzbekistan went over 1.96 at the first time of asking to take not only the top spot of today’s qualification rankings but also making her country’s first final since 1996.
Berlin World silver medallist Ariane Friedrich who has struggled with injury problems pretty much since then was unable to master 1.96 and she had to bow out alongside Greece’s Adonia Steryiou, the final place in the final going to Russia’s number 3 Irina Gordeeva who only recorded one failure against Friedrich’s two misses at 1.93!
Former World Championships finalist Laverne Spencer of Saint Lucia and five-time Olympian Amy Acuff of the USA did not qualify with bests of 1.90 and 1.85 respectively.