European high jumpers gave a taste of the great competitions to come at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague next month.
The biggest headline deservedly went to Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim, who set world-leading mark of 2.40m at the Banskobystrická latka 2015 high jump competition in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, on Wednesday evening.
Barshim’s feat at the European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting, and what is highly likely to be the top specialist indoor meeting in the world this winter, was also an Asian record, a meeting record. He joins a select group of jumpers who have cleared 2.40m or better indoors, a club which now has eight members.
Watch Barshim's 2.40m clearance below:
He was competing in the first of four indoor meetings in Europe during the next three weeks, with further stops in Czech Republic, Ireland and Sweden.
In a packed 1000-capacity Stiavnickach sports hall, Ukraine’s European silver medallist Andriy Protsenko, who had been struggling to find his rhythm earlier in the evening, cleared a season’s best 2.33m on his second attempt to take second place and will be looking to add to his medal collection on the continental stage in Prague in a month’s time.
Russia’s London 2012 Olympic Games champion Ivan Ukhov - a winner in Banska Bystrica for three consecutive years from 2010-12 and the former meeting record holder at 2.38m - had to settle for third place on this occasion with 2.31m; although he had two good attempts at 2.35m which may mean he retrospectively regrets his decision to pass 2.33m.
Among the five men still in the competition at 2.35m was local hero Matus Bubenik, who cleared a personal best of 2.31m and garnered the biggest cheers of the night after Barshim.
Italy’s Marco Fassinotti, the former world leader prior to Wednesday and still the best European in 2015, unfortunately had to withdraw from the competition before it got underway, having slightly twisted his left ankle while warming up.
However, another Italian fared much better in the women’s contest as the former world youth and junior champion Alessia Trost triumphed when she was the only jumper over 1.96m.
Five women were actually still in the competition when the bar was raised to 1.96m.
Spain’s two-time European champion Ruth Beitia - who had struggled at the preceding height of 1.94m and only got it right at the third time of asking - and Russia’s world champion Svetlana Shkolina both elected to pass that height.
In their absence, Trost got over 1.96m on her second attempt while Croatia’s Ana Simic and Russia’s 2012 world indoor champion Mariya Kuchina both brought the bar down three times and were eliminated.
Part of the women's contest is found below:
At 1.98m, Trost, Shkolina and Beitia, in that order, all failed three times; although the trio all went close with their third attempts.
In joint second place, with clean cards all the way up to and including 1.94m, were Simic and Shkolina, the latter having her first international competition since the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels in September 2013, having missed the whole of last year due to injury.
More highlights from Banska Bystrica are found here.