Tag Archives: Blanka Vlašić

London Olympics Preview: The High Jump

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.

Photo from Nigel Chadwick

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.

    

Hellebaut (L), Di Martino (C), and Friedrich (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen and InsaneDesign)

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 in-from Shkolina, a resurgent Emma Green-Tregaro, or the comebacking Ariane Friedrich might spring a surprise.

Vlašić’s recovery from an ankle injury has been hampered by a bacterial infection; hence, she remains “doubtful” for the London games, according to news reports.

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

Sources:

2008 Beijing Olympics Results

2011 World Championships Results

2009 World Championships Results

2007 World Championships Results

2012 World Indoor Championships Results

2010 World Indoor Championships Results

IAAF Top List – 2012 Men’s High Jump

IAAF Top List – 2012 Women’s High Jump

A Long Shot: Asian Hopes at the Daegu World Championships

The Daegu World Athletics Championships is just around the corner. South Korea will play host to the most prestigious gathering track & field athletes after the Olympic Games, the third time for an Asian country to do so.

Sprinter Usain Bolt, in light of his spectacular array of world records, is the undeniable front-act. Other crowd drawers are triple jumper Teddy Tamgho of France (a stress fracture prematurely ended Tamgho’s season, unfortunately), high jumper Blanka Vlasic and javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway. The Kenyan 800m runner David Rudisha, fresh from a slew of world records last season, is on the hunt to rewrite the two-lap mark once more. The sprints, as always, will provide fast-paced action as the rest of the world pits their sprinting might against the dominant Jamaicans and Americans.

Read the rest of the article on InTheZone.com.ph

Blanka Vlašić at the IAAF World Gala

Ace high jumper Blanka Vlašić is at her prettiest in the photo below:

Photo from Zimbio and Getty Images

The Croatian is with 800m world record holder David Rudisha (2L), IAAF President Lamine Diack  (L) and Monaco’s Prince Albert II (R) at the IAAF World Gala. Vlasic and Rudisha are this years’ Athletes of the Year awardees.

Read the IAAF write-up here

Read “Brava, Blanka!”

Video credit:

outdoorsportchannel

Bravo, Blanka!

I never did like Blanka Vlašić. I found her penchant for celebratory dances too smug for my tastes. She had that air of dominance around her when she competes. And dominate her event she did, winning meet-after-meet in a forgettable string of victories. Although she lost out to Tia Hellebaut at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Vlasic was without a doubt the most formidable female high jumper of our time.

Perhaps it was her sheer dominance that turned me off. I rooted for lower-key jumpers like Ariane Friedrich and Emma Green, in the same way as I cheered for the Utah Jazz against the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls.

In a sense, Vlasic was the Yelena Isinbayeva of women’s high jump.

Like the psychologically-tired Isinbayeva, something was amiss with Vlasic during last March’s World Indoor Championships in Doha. The Croatian seemed far from her usual smug self, failing to make a show out the high jumping spectacle.

Whilst reading about the write-up on Vlasic prior to the IAAF Continental Cup in Split, Croatia, I learned about the horrid circumstances of prior to the Doha games. It turned out that a fake sex video featuring someone who resembles Vlasic was circulated. Being the private and quiet person Blanka is, she was naturally devastated. A crisis of confidence ensued, threatening her promising career.

Thanks to her mental toughness, Vlasic persevered against these off-track distractions.

In the same IAAF article, Vlasic said: ““Fifteen years ago I competed in Poljud (the track stadium in her home town of Split) for the first time, in an empty stadium. I asked my dad if it would ever be possible for me to compete here with a full stadium. Of course, he didn’t know the answer.”

When Vlasic won a few days later, I felt happy for her. For an athlete to win in front of friends and family at one’s cherished home track – now that’s truly priceless.

Instead of the arrogance she usually displayed, she exhibited a more magnanimous human side this time as she sobbed tears of joy during her celebratory lap.

Bravo, Blanka! Bravo!

Additional links:

IAAF pre-Split feature

Universal Sports article

Blanka sails to 2.05m

Track Beauty of the Week: Emma Green-Tregaro

Emma Green-Tregaro is this week’s track beauty!

During the heyday of the big five of Swedish athletics (Carolina Kluft, Kajsa Bergqvist, Stefan Holm, Christian Olsson and Susanna Kallur), the young Emma Green had already made her mark on the world stage.

As a 21-year old, Green grabbed bronze behind Berqvist’s gold at the rain-soaked 2005 Helsinki World Championships, where the former cleared 1.96m.

 

Photos from IAAF, Wikipedia and Digitalextreme.de

Green won Sweden’s only medal at the 2010 Barcelona European Championships, jumping to a new personal best of 2.01m, behind Blanka Vlasic. With her entry into the 2.00 meter club, the unassuming lass has bolstered her status into the high jump elite – and as the small, but athletically-astute Scandinavian country’s ace track & field talent.

Photo from IAAF

Green-Tregaro has had a consistent 2011 season. Despite inclement weather, she took the scalp of Vlasic at the New York Diamond League. A few days later, she wowed the Swedish crowd at the historic Ullevi Stadium at the SPAR European Team Championships.

The Swede has tremendous athletics talent. Through the years, she has won national titles in the sprints (100m, 200m) and the horizontal jumps (triple jump and long jump) as well.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Additional links:

IAAF article

Emma Green official site

Wiki

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