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London Olympics Preview: The High Jump
June 3, 2012Posted by on
The high jump, as with all technical events, is a tough event to call. In this article, I’ll be doing my utmost best to provide the facts and make a sound judgment on my predictions for the upcoming London Olympic Games.
Women’s High Jump
Anna Chicherova Анна Чичерова (2.02m SB, 2012 world leader) is the hands down favorite for the Olympic title. The Russian has figured in the top three of all major championships since 2007, crowning her gradual rise with the world title in Daegu, in an epic duel with archrival Vlašić. The once dominant Croatian has taken a low profile since the 2011 world championships, opting to skip the indoor season.
Chicherova (L) and Lowe (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen)
Chaunté Lowe (1.98m SB in 2012), the American record holder and the 2012 World Indoor Champion, has shown fine form this year. So has Svetlana Shkolina (Светлана Школина), who has recently cleared a new outdoor personal best of 2.00m in Eugene. The defending Olympic champion, Tia Hellebaut, has gradually recovered her old winning form since making a comeback from pregnancy and retirement. To date, the Belgian has a season’s best of 1.96m.
Chicherova is my pick to win the London Olympic gold medal. She has played bridesmaid for so long. At 29-years old and having played bridesmaid for so long. London should be the Russian’s playground – and the crowning glory of an illustrious career. In the battle for the minor medals, Lowe is ahead of the pack. Hellebaut, should she recover her old form, and the evergreen Antonietta Di Martino have strong chances to land a podium spot – although beating Chicherova and Lowe seem far-fetched.
The Croatian, with a personal best of 2.08m from 2009, trails only world record holder Stefka Kostadinova in the all-time list. Chicherova is fourth in the list, with her 2.07m clearance in Cheboksary last year. Friedrich, recovering from a torn achilles’ tendon, has a classy personal best of 2.06m from 2009. Lowe (2010) and Hellebaut (2008) have identical best marks of 2.05m. Di Martino has a lifetime’s best of 2.03m (2007).
Top Three Predictions:
Gold: Anna Chicherova
Silver: Chaunte Lowe
Bronze: Tia Hellebaut/Antonietta Di Martino/Ariane Friedrich
Men’s High Jump
In the past three editions of the World Championships, the women’s high jump top three was spread amongst just four women (Chicherova, Vlasic, Di Martino and Friedrich). Whereas, in the men’s competition, eight different athletes figured in the top ranks (Williams, Dmitrik, Barry, Rybakov, Iaonnou, Spank, and Bednarek). Unlike the women’s event, the battle for men’s gold is wide open.
The United Kingdom’s fast-improving Robert Grabarz is currently in pole position, with his world-leading 2.33m clearance from the Rome Diamond League. The American Ricky Robertson (2.32m) and the surprise 2012 World Indoor Champion, Dimítrios Chondrokoúkis Δημήτρης Χονδροκούκης (2.32m), round up the next two. The World Champion from Daegu, Jesse Williams, has a season’s best of 2.31m.
Williams (L) and Rybakov (R). Photos from Erik van Leeuwen)
To date, the highest ranked Russian is the mercurial Ivan Ukhov (Ива́н У́хов). Expect the other members of the crack Russian high jump corps (Aleksey Dmitrik Алексей Дмитрик, Yaroslav Rybakov Ярослав Рыбаков, Aleksandr Shustov Александр Шустов, and Andrey Silnov Андрей Сильнов) to turn in impressive marks as the their country’s outdoor season unfolds. The Bahamian Trevor Barry, the Bahraini youngster, Mutaz Essa Barshim, and Chondrokoúkis, are also prime contenders for a spot on the podium. Silnov is the defending champion from Beijing.
Ukhov (L), Dmitrik (C), and Chondrokoúkis (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen)
In terms of outdoor personal bests, Silnov leads the pack with 2.38m from 2008. Williams is a 2.37m (2011) jumper at his best. Ukhov (2010), Dmitrik (2011), and Shustov (2011) has each sailed above 2.36m.
With such a lineup – and with no hands-down dominant force – selecting a definite top three is terribly difficult. In light of the depth of talent, anyone could rise to the ocassion and crown himself Olympic champion. Barring any unforseen hitches, Williams, an experienced international campaigner and the reigning world champion, should have a slight advantage over the others.
I’m banking on a narrow Grabarz win over Williams and the rest of the Russians.
Top Three Predictions:
Gold: Robbie Grabarz
Silver: Jesse Williams
Bronze: The Russians (Ukhov, Dmitrik, Shustov, Andrey Silnov)/Dimítrios Chondrokoúkis