It was not so much the height which caught the eye but the words of determination which came with it from Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi who is looking to capture his best form more than two years after an injury which left his career hanging in the balance.
“I would like my 2019 to be like my 2016,” said Tamberi. “I have the same desire to win then, from the first competition to the last competition.”
Tamberi was speaking in Verona after competing in an exhibition event in the city where, with the help of a jumping board, he cleared 2.46m, one centimetre in excess of Cuban Javier Sotomayor’s world record of 2.45m from 1993.
But at 26, and with personal bests of 2.38m (indoor) and 2.39m (outdoors) respectively, Tamberi wants to replicate this vein of form in major events again, starting with the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow in from 1-3 March.
As he said in his conversation with Gazzetta.it, the desire is to match the achievements of 2016 where he broke both those records - along with winning world indoor gold in Portland, Oregon and European gold in Amsterdam - before a left ankle tear in Monaco where he cleared his lifetime best ruled him out of the Olympics as well as most of the 2017 season.
Tamberi has not made the major podium since – he was fourth at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships in August – but Tamberi has Glasgow firmly in his sights with some good end-of-season form to boost the spirits.
Tamberi only missed out on a medal in Berlin after Maksim Nedasekau cleared 2.31m after passing his third attempt at 2.28m. Instead of dwelling on a near miss, Tamberi finished his outdoor season brilliantly with three successive competitions at 2.30m or higher: 2.33m on his first attempt in Eberstadt, 2.31m in Brussels and then 2.30m to win the Italian Championships.
He will now head to Potchefstroom in South Africa at the end of December to prepare in warmer climes for a full indoor campaign.
He will open his season in Karlsruhe on 2 February before the annual high jump meeting in Banska Bystrica on 9 February which is also a European Athletics Indoor Permit Event, the Italian Championships in Ancona and then the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow.