Anna Chicherova of Russia celebrates being gold medalist of the Women's High Jump Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 11, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright

London 2012 - Event Report - Women's High Jump Final

After finishing third at the Beijing Olympic Games four years ago and a maternity leave a couple of years back, Anna Chicherova has returned stronger than ever and tonight added the Olympic gold medal to the World title she snatched at the Daegu World Championships twelve months ago.

At 30 years of age, Chicherova looked to be in the best shape of her life tonight as she dominated the women’s High Jump final with a huge clearance at 2.05 which left us wondering how much more she had left in her because, one thing is certain, she had a lot more in her this evening.

However, in a superb contest in which she first showed signs of emotions after her clearance at 2.03 was so amazing that it saw her leaving the High Jump mat almost in tears, Chicherova decided to end her competition when none of her two rivals still in contention managed to clear 2.05.

Silver medal went to a very surprising Brigetta Barrett, the World Student Games champion adding 2 centimetres to her previous personal best when going clear at 2.03 at the second time of asking.

In third, Svetlana Shkolina also improved her personal best (2.01) but her third time clearance at 2.03 meant the Russian Championships runner-up would go home with bronze.

The competition shifted into serious business when the bar moved to 2 metres and Chicherova, Shkolina and European champion Ruth Beitia were the only three women to clear with their first attempt. The next over this height was 21-year-old Barrett who found herself in fourth as she only made it the second time around but her clearance indicated that there was a lot more to come from the US Trials runner up.

Failing to clear this height Svetlana Radzivil would finish in seventh, the best ever performance for Uzbekistan in the history of the Olympic Games.

There were two more illustrious exits at this height in the likes of defending Olympic champion Tia Hellebaut (fifth) and World Indoor champion Chaunte Lowe (sixth).

It was a return of some form for Hellebaut who has returned not from one but two maternity breaks since the Beijing Olympic Games. "I have mixed feelings, the goal was to jump two metres but I misssed out. I don't think I could have jumped more than two metres tonight, that was too big for me. In general it wasn't a bad night even if I finished fifth."

A pre-event favourite for at least winning a medal, US champion Lowe could not hold back tears of disappointment when she failed her third and final attempt at 2.00, a height she has jumped regularly for the past seven years!

"Overall I think I had a great season, it just wasn't great on this night," explained Lowe. "It's one of those things, you have to be ready on the day.

"The ladies who were ready today did a good job out there. It was a tough competition."

So that left four women in contention when the bar was raised to 2.03 and as it turned out Beitia would be the only one not to be successful at this height leaving the Spanish off the podium for the second time in two Olympic Games.

Meanwhile Chicherova cleared the first time around with a monstrous margin which indicated that her jump was very close – if not better – than the current 2.09 World record. Barrett needed two tries to sail over but she too cleared with a phenomenal margin considering the bar was already at 2.03!

Shkolina regrouped fabulously to clear with her final attempt and that meant that in a repeat of the Beijing final, three women were still in contention with the bar moving at 2.05.

Four years ago, Chicherova was the only one not to master 2.05. This time around she was the only one to clear!

Chicherova is now the third Russian to win the Olympic High Jump title following in the footsteps of Yelena Yelesina (2000) and Yelena Slesarenko (2004).

The USA had not won any medal of any kind in the women’s High Jump since the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988 where Louise Ritter won gold in a then Olympic record 2.03. Lowe was expected to end the Americans’ drought in that event but it will be the ever-smiling Barrett who will remain in the history books.

"I could not do anything, but to do my best," said Barrett. "The crowd was phenomenal. I had to cover my ears a couple of times. I could not think."

Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF