Ivan Ukhov congratulates high jump winner Mutaz Essa Barshim at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot (© Getty Images)
World indoor champion Mutaz Essa Barshim and Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov hope to continue where they left off when the pair of high jumpers clash at the Malmo Games on 25 February.
Both athletes were at their absolute peak in 2014 as they set lifetime bests; Ukhov with a European indoor record of 2.42m indoors in Prague and Barshim with an Asian record of 2.43m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Brussels.
Barshim, who often trains in Malmo under the watchful eye of coach Stanly Szcsyrba, is planning a short but successful indoor campaign in 2015. The 23-year-old Qatari aims to compete in just three competitions, of which the inaugural Malmo Games is one.
While Barshim ended 2014 with the world-leading mark and the Diamond Race title, Ukhov excels indoors. The 28-year-old Russian has a full set of world indoor medals and jumped 2.40m or higher on three occasions during the 2014 indoor season.
The pair competed against one another seven times during the 2014 outdoor season with Barshim having the slight edge at 4-3, but their career head-to-head record is tied at 13-13.
“We are proud to present the world’s best high jumpers in Malmo and are looking forward to a competition of top class,” said meeting director Rajne Soderberg. “It feels extra special to have Mutaz competing at the Malmo Games because over the years we have been able to closely follow his development under the guidance of Stanly Szcsyrba.”
Also announced for the Malmo Games is pole vault world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie.
Organisers for the IAAF