Maksim Nedasekau has even considered trying out for the decathlon, such is the range of his talents. The Belarusian teenager has run 10.9 for the 100m in training shoes and has also surpassed the seven metre-barrier for the long jump but the 19-year-old looks destined to make a sizeable impact in the high jump when he progresses into the senior ranks next season.
Eighth at last year’s World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Nedasekau was largely unknown internationally before the European Athletics U20 Championships in Grosseto but the 19-year-old came to attention after equalling - and then surpassing - Vladimir Yashchenko’s legendary and long-standing championship record of 2.30m from 1977 by three centimetres.
Nedasekau arrived in Grosseto as one of the favourites with a lifetime best of 2.26m, a mark which many observers - including the soon-to-be champion - thought would be perfectly sufficient to contend for the title. After all, the world U20 title was won with 2.27m last summer.
“Even at the national championships, I said that I want to win the European Championships,” Nedasekau told the Belarus Athletic Federation after claiming the title in Grosseto. “But I could not imagine that it would be so difficult to win - I thought that 2.26m or 2.28m would be the first place but as it turned out, 2.28m was far from the title.”
Nedasekau began his competition cautiously, opting to open his final at a modest 2.05m but he kept himself in contention for the title by clearing each height at his first attempt. He was shunted down into silver after Ukraine’s Dmytro Nikitin cleared 2.28m but having recorded back-to-back failures at 2.28m and then at 2.30m, Nedasekau showed his mettle by securing the title with a do-or-die clearance at 2.30m before clearing 2.33m on his third attempt.
“If you take my season as a whole, I could not even imagine that I would clear 2.33m; the maximum is 2.30m. Before the Minsk Cup, I counted on 2.25m or 2.26m. There I believed in myself, therefore, when I came here, I realised that this was possible,” he said.
Nedasekau’s third time clearance at 2.33m puts him in some esteemed company. His clearance was the best by a junior this millennium and he moves up to equal seventh on the all-time lists alongside Sweden’s Patrik Sjoberg and China’s Zhu Jianhua.
Not only is Nedasekau an exceptional and exciting talent, he thrives on competition - a good sign as he makes the transition into the senior ranks. Invitations to compete on the lucrative Diamond League circuit must surely be forthcoming now, along with selection for the European Athletics Championships in Berlin next year.
After the competition, Nedasekau paid tribute to both Nikitin and Great Britain’s Tom Gale, who both cleared 2.28m to claim silver and bronze medals, for pushing him to a championship record and a seven centimetre lifetime best of 2.33m in Grosseto.
“For me, competition is very important. It spurs me on. Without competition, I would not have cleared 2.33m. This made me jump higher and higher,” he said.