Svetlana Shkolina in the womens High Jump at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Moscow, Russia

Report: Women's High Jump final – Moscow 2013

A Russian won the women’s High Jump but the plaudits went to Svetlana Skholina rather than the defending World champion and London 2012 Olympic Games winner, and many people’s favourite, Anna Chicherova.

Skholina was roared over 2.03m, which equalled her personal best set when she won a bronze medal at the Olympics last summer, accompanied by the biggest decibel count since Yelena Isinbayeva won the Pole Vault on Tuesday.

However, as luck would have it, it would be impossible to divide which cheers were for her and which for the 4x400m as she slithered over the bar just as her compatriots overtook the USA on the third leg of the Relay.

Skholina will not care though as she finally fulfilled her youthful promise of nearly a decade ago which saw her take the silver medal at the 2004 IAAF World Junior Championships and then take the European junior title the following year.

However, she didn’t look like the likely gold medallist in the early stage of the competition and needed two attempts at 1.93m but she recovered her poise to go straight over 1.97m.

She was one of six women to go over that height and attempt 2.00m but only her and 2013 US champion Brigetta Barrett, the 2013 world leader with 2.04m, went over that particular bar.

At that point in proceedings, Barrett was in pole position having cleared every height with her first attempt but, jumping ahead of Skholina and bringing the bar down with her first attempt, the American couldn’t raise her game with her remaining two efforts.

Skholina then had two half-hearted attempts at 2.05m but it was clear that her energy was drained after the emotion and elation of becoming the third Russian to win a World title in this event, after Chicherova two years ago in Daegu and Tamara Bykova, back in the Soviet era, who triumphed at the inaugural edition of the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki 30 years ago.

The winner had generally been considered an outside for the gold medal and in many people’s eyes was the third favourite after Chicherova and Barrett, but perhaps that was doing her a disservice.

She arrived at the championships unbeaten in her three outings this season, including wins at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in Rome and Oslo in June, as well as at the Russian Championships last month.

Chicherova didn’t go down without a fight and was flawless up to and including 1.97m, along with Spain’s Ruth Beitia, but found 2.00m beyond her; although her third and final attempt at that height was almost a success and she was well clear with her body, only nudging off the bar with her heels.

The bronze medal was Chicherova’s fourth consecutive place on the podium, although she shared third place with Beitia.

By contrast, it was the popular Spaniard’s first medal in six World Championships appearances. The question she will doubtless be asked when she gets back to her home city of Santander is whether it will be her last.

Beitia, at 34, was the oldest competitor in the final by more than three years and had talked about 2012 being her last season before she went on to win European titles both indoors and outdoors in the last 13 months.

Behind the four medallists, Sweden’s Emma Green Tregaro and Poland’s Justyna Kasprzycka also went over 1.97m but failures during the competition meant they were out of the medals, although the latter had plenty of compensation by adding two centimetres to her best.

Two women who will rue the lost opportunity to get among the medals and didn’t display their best form were Italy’s Alessia Trost, who was trying to follow in the footsteps of her illustrious compatriot Sara Simeoni who won the 1980 Olympic gold medal in the same Luzhniki Stadium, and Russia’s Irina Gordeeva.

This season’s form suggested both of them should have been able to progress higher than 1.93m.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF