Russia's Ivan Ukhov in action in the high jump (© Ales Graf)
Russia’s London 2012 Olympic Games gold medallist Ivan Ukhov and Italy’s 2012 World Junior Championships gold medallist Alessia Trost came out on top at the first leg of the 2013 Moravia High Jump Tour in Hustopece, Czech Republic, on Saturday (26).
Six men went over 2.26m but only Ukhov and Qatar’s Asian record holder Mutaz Essa Barshim succeeded when the bar when up to 2.30m.
Ukhov went clear with his first attempt while Barshim – the 2013 world leader with 2.33m in Sweden last Sunday and a 2012 Olympic games bronze medallist – had to conceded the advantage as both men had been flawless up to this height but finally had a good clearance with his third attempt at 2.30m to give an indication that there was still some spring in his legs.
Both men then passed at 2.32m and had the bar put up to a world-leading 2.34m but neither could get over the new height.
"You know, 2.30 is not such a great result for me but the end of last season was very difficult and filled with many after-Olympic events. However, this is like my home competition and that is why I always want to show the best performance for home crowd and organisers. I hope in Trinec (the second leg of the Tour on 29 January) it will be even better," said Ukhov.
Ukhov holds the meetings records at both venues, having cleared 2.38m in Hustopece last year and 2.34m in Trinec in 2010.
Behind the leading pair this year, several good jumpers were having a bad day.
Reigning World champion Jesse Williams, from the USA, could do no better than 2.18m and was down in 12th place while Bahamas’ 2007 World champion Donald Thomas did better as one of the men to go over 2.26m before failing at 2.30m but had to settle for equal fourth place along with local star and 2004 Olympic medallist Jaroslav Baba.
Finland’s Osku Torro finished third, also with 2.26m, but he had no failures until 2.30m.
Trost confirmed that she has matured very quickly into a rival for the top senior jumpers by going over 1.95m just a week after she cleared a 2013 world-leading height of 1.98m on home soil in Udine.
The Italian teenager, who doesn’t turn 20 until 8 March, was one of four women still in the competition when the bar went up to 1.95m but the only one to go clear; and she did so in comfortable fashion at her first attempt.
The clearance continued her clean sheet, having not brought the bar down until it was raised to 2.00m.
Having been assured of victory, she had two reasonable attempts, her second and third, at the benchmark height of 2.00m to suggest that height may soon be within her grasp.
Bulgaria’s Venelina Veneva, at 38 twice Trost’s age, was second with 1.93m after going clear with her first attempt every time until three unsuccessful tries at 1.95m.
Phil Minshull and organisers (Ed Gordon and Zuzana Trojakova) for the IAAF
1. I Ukhov (RUS) 2.30m
2. M Barshim (QAT) 2.30m
3. O Torro (FIN) 2.26m
4=. J Baba (CZE) & D Thomas (BAH) 2.26m
6. M Kabelka (SVK) 2.26m
1. A Trost (ITA) 1.95m
2. V Veneva (BUL) 1.93m
3. O Kholosha (UKR) 1.93m
4. E Green-Tregaro (SWE) 1.93m
5. E Haas (EST) 1.90m
6. Y Kuntsevich (RUS) 1.90m