Saturday, 25 August 2007
The High Jump is not normally regarded as an endurance event, but three hours in the broiling Osaka midday sun may yet take its toll on the women multi-eventers as their competition unfolds through to Sunday night.
It was yet another occasion when Carolina Klüft, the defending champion, showed her competitive qualities. The Swedish Olympic gold medallist did not join the competition for the first hour, and then proceeded to have first-time clearances at each height through to 1.89m. Klüft became increasingly animated with each successive, successful jump, punching the air, reaching into the sky to demonstrate her delight.
Never more so than, following a failure at 1.92, she sailed over at great speed at her second attempt, for a season‘s best. For the first time in the competition, she had managed to get an edge over her young British rival, Jessica Ennis.
After winning the 100m Hurdles, Ennis matched Klüft jump for jump (a single failure at 1.80 was quickly rectified), and therefore protected her slender points lead. But 1.92 proved to be beyond the British High Jump record-holder, leaving Klüft and Lyudmyla Blonska (UKR) - who now had moved into third place, within three points of Ennis overall - to try for 1.95.
Blonska’s 1.92 clearance was a personal best, an ominous improvement for all her rivals from the 29-year-old World Indoor Pentathlon champion, who came to Japan with the year’s leading Heptathlon performance.
Now Klüft showed her mettle. After two failures, the Swede soared to a PB of her own, and a valuable extra 39 points. Determinedly, she made three attempts at 1.98, but that height was beyond even Klüft.
Two hours into the competition, there had been still eight athletes in at 1.83, but that height whittled the field down. Tatyana Chernova, Russia’s World Junior champion, was perhaps the most disappointed with her jumping, while Kelly Sotherton (GBR) kept her medal hopes alive by clearing 1.86.
The third event of the Heptathlon, the Shot Put, starts at 7.10pm local time, with the 200m to follow at 9.30pm.
Medal positions after two events:
1, Klüft 2,273
2, Ennis 2,222
3, Blonska 2,219
Osaka 2007 News Team/sd
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