Report02 Mar 1998

Balakhonova sets second world record in European championships


Ukraine's Anzhela Balakhonova set the second world record of the European Indoor Championships in Athletics in Valencia, Sunday, when she cleared 4.45m at her first attempt to establish a new women's pole vault record mark and put three out of four pole vault records (men's indoor and outdoor and women's indoor) in Ukrainian hands.

Balakhonova, who took gold with her record-breaking vault, set her mark in competition with the defending record holder Vala Flosadóttir of Iceland, who took third place in the competition behind past record holder Daniela Bartova of the Czech Republic. Balakhonova had the bar raised to 4.50 following her successful clearance at 4.45, but failed her three attempts at the new height.

The previous best was 4.44, set by Flosadóttir in Eskilstuna, just a few hours after Bartova had raised the record to 4.43 in another meeting in Germany. Both Bartova and Flosadóttir cleared 4.40, but failed in their attempts at 4.45. Bartova took the silver medal, following fewer failed attempts during the course of the competition.

25-year old Balakhonova's first contact with athletics was as a sprinter during her mid teens, when she recorded times of 11.2 in the 100m and 23.60 in the 200m, she then turned to gymnastics and has been pole vaulting for the past two years. Despite the rudimentary conditions in Kiev, where she lives and trains (no proper landing mattress, etc), Balakhonova was confident of chieving her record height as she has already cleared 4.50 in training. She has said that she expects to vault 4.60-4.70 during the coming season and that she will be vaulting at least 5.00m by the year 2000. During contacts with IAAF officials during the European Championships, she requested assistance to attend training in Formia (Italy), where the great mentor of her compatriot Sergey Bubka - the Czar of pole vaulting - the coach Vitaliy Petrov, runs pole vault training courses.

The next attempt at the world indoor record is likely to come from Australia's Emma George. The Australian Federation announced last week that they would organise an indoor competition in Adelaide on 7 March to give George the opportunity to win back the indoor record and add it to the outdoor mark of 4.57 she set in Auckland on 23 February.

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