Timur Morgunov, who came to many people’s notice when he narrowly avoided impaling himself on his pole at the Rabat Diamond League meeting – landing with it ripping through his shorts – is now earning attention in much happier circumstances.
Having earned a European silver medal earlier this month in Berlin with an outdoor personal best of 6.00m, he won today’s exhibition event* in Zurich’s main station – with both stands and concourse packed with spectators - ahead of tomorrow’s IAAF Diamond League final at the Letzigrund Stadium with an all-or-nothing last effort that also secured him an indoor personal best of 5.91m.
The 21-year-old Authorised Neutral Athlete had to clear in order to move above Canada’s 2015 world champion Shawn Barber, who had gone out of the competition leading on countback after clearing a season’s indoor best of 5.86m.
Morgunov had added a centimetre to his indoor personal best by clearing that mark in his previous round in what was the fourth pole vault event to have been held in this venue.
It was also a very good day for another 21-year-old, Australia’s Commonwealth Games champion Kurtis Marschall, who set successive indoor personal bests of 5.81m and 5.86m, finishing in third place.
With six men clearing 5.81m, this was the best standard Diamond League men’s pole vault competition ever seen in terms of breadth of achievement. That has happened only three times before – at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the Osaka World Championships of 2007 and at the indoor meeting in Clermont-Ferrand, Renaud Lavillenie’s home tournament.
France’s world record holder passed to 5.91m after a first failure at 5.86m, but his gamble failed to pay off.
The crowd roared and sighed and stayed to the last presentations, which were made by the IAAF President Sebastian Coe.
Another tick in the box for bringing athletics to the people.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF
*The Diamond League final in the men’s pole vault will take place in Brussels on Friday.