Bondarenko: ‘Zurich high jump will be like a world championship’
Ukraine’s world champion Bohdan Bondarenko may be a marginal favourite for the high jump title here, but as he made clear ahead of last month’s Diamond League meeting in Monaco, which he won with 2.40m, he is taking nothing for granted in a season which is surpassing even the last in terms of overall quality in this event.
The Monaco field contained six men who had cleared 2.40 or better this year, and four of them - Bondarenko, his Ukrainian colleague Andriy Protsenko and the Russian pairing of Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov and Aleksey Dmitrik - will be among the contenders for the title won two years ago by Britain’s Robbie Grabarz with 2.31.
“It will be like a world championship,” said Bondarenko, whose personal best of 2.42, set in New York on 14 June, equalled the European record set by Sweden’s Patrik Sjoberg in 1987. Ukhov cleared the same height on 25 February in Prague, and followed that performance with 2.41 outdoors in Doha.
The men’s long jump looks equally compelling, and equally open. Great Britain’s Olympic champion Greg Rutherford will be seeking gold to add to his silver of 2006 in a season where he has set a national record of 8.51m and, most recently, won the Commonwealth title in Glasgow.
Christian Reif of Germany, 8.49 this year, and France’s Salim Sdiri, 8.35, look likely challengers, but there are numerous lurking threats, not least Russia’s world champion Aleksandr Menkov, despite his failure to go further than 8.02 this season.
Lyukman Adams of Russia looks the man in form in the triple jump as he heads the 2014 European lists with 17.29m ahead of the French pair of Yoann Rapinier (17.16) and Benjamin Compaore (17.12), with another Russian, Aleksey Fyodorov, fourth on 17.07.
But the field is a highly experienced one, including Portugal’s 30-year-old Nelson Evora, the 2008 Olympic champion, Romania’s 32-year-old 2010 European silver medallist Marian Oprea, who has a best of 17.81, and another 32-year-old in Dimitrios Tsiamis of Greece, who has jumped 17.55.
Also in the picture will be Britain’s 35-year-old Phillips Idowu, the 2008 Olympic silver medallist who won world gold in 2009 and European gold in 2010, and Italy’s 37-year-old defending champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Fabrizio Donato, whose team-mate Daniele Greco, last year’s European indoor champion, also looks capable of reaching the podium.
Renaud Lavillenie is going for a hat-trick of European pole vault titles in Zurich and if he wins it will also be his 20th straight victory.
Entering a competition with the favourite’s tag is generally a good sign, however as Lavillenie experienced at the World Championships in Moscow and Daegu two years before that, it can also be overwhelming.
This year two Polish athletes Piotr Lisek and Paweł Wojciechowski, the man who took gold in Daegu, are determined to cause the upset and it will be interesting to see if the world record holder can withstand the pressure.
Vlasic back to gold medal contention after injury comeback
Can Blanka Vlasic, the 2007 and 2009 world high jump champion, get back onto the top of a major podium after two years struggling to recover from a serious Achilles tendon injury?
While Russia’s Olympic champion Anna Chicherova, who leads the European 2014 high jump listings with 2.01m, will not be in Zurich, the 30-year-old Croatian, who has a 2.00m to her credit this year, will be seeking another title.
Russia’s Mariya Kuchina, also a 2.00m jumper this year, is here, along with the Pole with whom she shared this year’s world indoor title, Kamila Lićwinko. Also look out for Poland’s Justyna Kasprzycka, Serbia’s Ana Simic, and Spain’s 35-year-old European indoor champion Ruth Beitia.
Russia has two potential long jump champions in Anna Klyashtornaya, who tops the European 2014 long jump standings with 6.93, and Darya Klishina, whose 6.90 this year puts her level with Germany’s Malaika Mihambo.
Also look out for two athletes with a best of 6.92 this year – France’s Eloyse Lesueur and Britain’s 21-year-old world indoor silver medallist Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
There will be a massive Russian challenge too in the triple jump, where Yekaterina Koneva appears favourite after her recent 14.89m effort in Monaco. Team-mates Alsu Murtazina, second in this year’s European list with 14.50, and Irina Gumenyuk, who has managed 14.35, also look like medal contenders.
Others in the mix include Portugal’s Patricia Mamona, with a season’s best of 14.36, Natallia Viatkina of Belarus (14.35) – and of course Ukraine’s former world champion Olha Saladuha, winner of the last two European titles.
In the absence of Yelena Isinbayeva, the women’s pole vault title is up for grabs. Germany’s Lisa Ryzih and Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece lead the European lists with 4.71m but the top five women so far this season are held within just 8 centimetres.
It’s therefore difficult to predict which vaulters will be standing on the podium on Thursday 14 August, but we can be sure that all three medallists will be thrilled.
ALL THE JUMPING STATS
High jump - Robbie Grabarz (GBR) 2.31m
Long jump - Sebastian Bayer (GER) 8.34m
Triple jump - Fabrizio Donato (ITA) 17.63m
Pole vault - Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) 5.97m
High jump - Ruth Beitia (ESP) 1.97m
Long jump - Eloyse Lesueur (FRA) 6.81m
Triple jump - Olha Saladuha (UKR) 14.99m
Pole vault - Jirina Ptacnikova (CZE) 4.60m
High jump - Bohdan Bondarenko (UKR) 2.42m
Long jump - Greg Rutherford (GBR) 8.51m
Triple jump - Lyukman Adams (RUS) 17.29m
Pole vault - Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) 5.92m
High jump - Anna Chicherova (RUS) 2.01m
Long jump - Anna Klyashtornaya (RUS) 6.93m
Triple jump - Yekaterina Koneva (RUS) 14.89m
Pole vault - Lisa Ryzih (GER) 4.71m
High jump - Patrik Sjoberg (Swe) 2.42m Stockholm, 30 Jun. 1987; Ivan Ukhov (RUS) 2.42m Prague, 25 Feb. 2014; Bohdan Bondarenko (UKR) 2.42m New York, 14 Jun. 2014
Long jump - Robert Emmiyan (ARM) 8.86m Tsakhkadzor, 22 May. 1987
Triple jump - Jonathan Edwards (GBR) 18.29m Gothenburg, 7 Aug. 1995
Pole vault - Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) 6.16m Donetsk, 15 Feb. 2014
High jump - Stefka Kostadinova (BUL) 2.09m Rome, 30 Aug. 1987
Long jump - Galina Cistjakova (RUS) 7.52m Leningrad, 11 Jun. 1988
Triple jump - Inessa Kravets (UKR) 15.50m Gothenburg, 10 Aug. 1995
Pole vault - Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS) 5.06m Zurich, 28 Aug. 2009
EUROPEAN ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIP RECORDS
High jump - Andrey Silnov (RUS) 2.36m Gothenburg 2006
Long jump - Christian Reif (GER) 8.47m Barcelona 2010
Triple jump - Jonathan Edwards (GBR) 17.99m Budapest 1998
Pole vault - Radio Gataulin (RUS) 6.00m Helsinki 1994
High jump - Tia Hellebaut (BEL) 2.03m Gothenburg 2006, Venelina Veneva (BUL) 2.03m Gothenburg 2006 (silver); Blanka Vlasic (CRO) 2.03m Barcelona 2010
Long jump - Heike Drechsler (GDR) 7.30m Split 1990
Triple jump - Tatyana Lebedeva (RUS) 15.15m Gothenburg 2006
Pole vault – Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS) 4.80m Gothenburg 2006