News01 Feb 2007

Robles flies, as Vlasic, Holm, and Thörnblad soar in Gothenburg


Stefan Holm jumping in Gothenburg (© Hasse Sjögren)

Gothenburg, SwedenAt the Samsung Eurojump meet last night at the Scandinavium arena, Cuban hurdler Dayron Robles, 20, got off to an extremely impressive start to his first ever full indoor season. Despite being noticeably cautious at the start and despite shutting down the engines to a "jog-in" from the last hurdle he took one hundredth off the previous world leading mark for the 60m Hurdles by clocking a 7.57 in his heat.

When the young Cuban returned one and a half hour later for the final, he trimmed another eight hundredths off his time despite visibly losing much speed and momentum when hitting the first hurdle hard and despite being completely unpressed in the second half of a race he won by almost three metres! A sub-7.40 for Robles (PB 7.46) is not just on the cards, it appears almost inevitable in the very near future.

2.32 duel - Holm and Thörnblad

Despite the fireworks by Robles on the straightaway it was once more the High Jump competitions that caught most of the attention of the almost-sell-out crowd of 7.412 spectators. Russian Andrey Silnov, who was reigning supreme at the Europeans last August at the Ullevi Stadium a couple of blocks away from the Scandinavium arena, had no defence this time against the double "onslaught" of the Swedish duo Stefan Holm and Linus Thörnblad.

Silnov, who simply didn't have the necessary lift off the ground, actually went out already at 2.25m and so also had to settle for 4th behind Osku Torro of Finland who had a brilliant clearance in his third attempt at that height. But the bragging-rights fight for the position as Swedish No 1 lifted both Holm and Thörnblad over not just 2.25 but also 2.28, 2.30 and 2.32 – and almost 2.34!

Two misses at 2.28 put Thörnblad in the catching-up position while Holm had a clean sheet up to and including 2.32. But it was the nine years younger challenger that had the best jump of the evening when he almost made 2.34 on his second attempt, and Thörnblad had already landed and begun to leave the pit when the bar finally fell off the supports.

For Holm it was 2.30+ meet No.98 while Thörnblad cleared that world-class barrier for the 15th time in his career.

Vlasic ’magnificent’ – 2.00m

Their female colleague Kajsa Bergqvist, however, didn't get her hoped for 50th at 2.00m+ despite "ruling" the competition from start to end – almost! She recorded 1st attempt clearances at 1.85, 1.89, 1.92 and 1.95 and appeared to drop her last major challenger when Olympic champion Yelena Slesarenko needed two attempts at 1.95.

But then there was Blanka Vlasic, not the same kind of consistent jumper but an athlete that suddenly could pull out a huge one when she has been just about written off. Today she opened at 1.80 – with a miss! After 1.85 and 1.89 in first tries she passed 1.92 and missed twice at 1.95. A magnificent 3rd time clearance kept her in the meet but took so much out of her that she passed again at 1.98 watching Bergqvist and Slesarenko go out.

So if the Croatian cleared 2.00 she would win – if she failed she would have to be content with 3rd place. And she almost pulled it off with an impressive first attempt at 2.00, but the bar fell. 2nd attempt was not even close and the general thought in the arena probably was that Vlasic would have to be content with 3rd place in 1.95. But she obviously didn't harbour any such thoughts – instead Vlasic produced the jump of the evening by going completely clear of the bar set at 2.00.

Thereby she didn't just at the very last second snatch the victory from Bergqvist, she also joined Tia Hellebaut on top of the 2007 world list. And despite having already made ten jumps Vlasic took her three chances at 2.02 coming fairly close in the first of those.

Afterwards Bergqvist was looking for answers why she has been struggling somewhat in her first two competitions this winter ending up with 1.95 in both: "Physically I am in good form, but technically the timing is still not there. Now we will sit down in the next days to analyse the videos of my jumps to try to identify what kind of changes we have to do."

The spectators also enjoyed seeing Helsinki bronze medallist Emma Green clearing 1.85 and 1.89 with such ease that heights close to her 1.97 PB might be coming quite soon.

Klüft will defend European indoor title

Carolina Klüft's seasonal opener was very encouraging too. With the injury hampering her during last summer "Carro" produced a number of impressive jumps. She cleared 1.89 by a wide margin and probably would have made at least one more height if she hadn't run (and finished 5th in) the 60 metres between her first and second try at 1.92.

And Kluft herself was delighted afterwards: "I am really happy with what I accomplished tonight. It was so nice to be back competing although I am still far from 100%. Now I look forward to the rest of the indoor season and it certainly is my intention to do the pentathlon at the European Indoors in Birmingham in March."

The winner of that 60 metres was of course new national hero Susanna Kallur who dominated from the first step out of the blocks and who missed her four days old PB 7.25 by a mere 0.03. But the flat race was – like in Glasgow on Saturday – just an encore after first taking her speciality the Hurdles. Despite being completely surprised by a shockingly fast gun Kallur ran down the opposition winning from Lolo Jones by half a tenth in 7.98. With just a normal start she probably would have lowered her own world leading mark of 7.90.

Knee injury in training causes Olsson’s withdrawal

The men's Triple Jump of course lost some lustre when Christian Olsson had to pull out after picking up some nagging knee injury when training on Tuesday (30 Jan). But on the other hand it made the event much more competitive with the top-4 ending up crammed into a mere 17 centimetres: 16.95 for 1st place and 16.78 for 4th. American Aarik Wilson opened his jumping with a 16.91 which held up for the lead until the 6th and final round when young Cuban Osniel Tosca hop-step-and-jumped another four centimetres longer.

Late injuries diminished the Pole Vault field in size but the German duo Tim Lobinger and Lars Börgeling still provided world class vaulting at the top end. Both cleared 5.65 in impressive fashion and had a couple of really close attempts at 5.75.

Antigua's Brendan Christian might be a newcomer to the European scene but handled the opposition in the men's 60 metres as if he was a seasoned veteran. Christian simply controlled the action completely both in his heat (6.71 winning by 0.07) and in the final (6.68 winning by 0.06).

Lennart Julin for the IAAF

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