Mutaz Essa Barshim in the high jumpat the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (© Getty Images)
A massive 43 men started the high jump qualifying competition with ambitions of either clearing the automatic qualifying height of 2.31m to make Tuesday night’s final, or being among the top 12.
The critical height was 2.29m with 12 men in each of the two groups still in contention.
Only 11 cleared this height so there was no need to raise the bar further and the four men who were flawless up to and including 2.26m also progressed to the final.
Four men had no failures in the qualifying competition: world champion Derek Drouin and his predecessor Bogdan Bondarenko, world leader Mutaz Essa Barshim from Qatar and, perhaps surprisingly, Bulgaria’s Tikomir Ivanov, who provided a delighted jig for the crowd upon clearing the height which equalled his personal best.
Nearly all the expected medal contenders progressed but, almost inevitably in such a large field, there were a few notable casualties.
World silver medallist Zhang Guowei from China could go no higher than 2.22m, nor could his compatriot Wang Yu, both men having cleared 2.33m this year.
Recent European Championships medallists, Chris Baker from Great Britain and Eike Onnen from Germany, were also eliminated. Both men cleared 2.26m but had failures during the competition.
An interested and somewhat disconsolate spectator was Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi, winner of the world indoor and European titles this year, who many a month ago would have considered the gold medal favourite.
He cleared an Italian record of 2.39m when winning at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco last month before injuring himself while attempting 2.41m and subsequently being ruled out of Rio.
He was moved to tears of frustration on several occasions and had to be consoled by his girlfriend.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF