Vlasic is finding the right height at just the right time

Vlasic is finding the right height at just the right time
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Croatia's Blanka Vlasic cleared the two metre mark to win the high jump contest at the Diamond League meeting in Paris on Saturday.

There has been no rush for Blanka Vlasic, because it has been all about small steps towards the main goal.

And now, suddenly, with one stirring performance, the target looks achievable and the result tells its own story.

At the Diamond League meeting in Paris on Saturday, Vlasic produced her best outdoor high jump since returning to the sport after almost two years of tears and pain with injury and illness.

Her 2.00m to beat Russia’s Maria Kuchina, the joint-world indoor champion, puts her joint second on the world lists and, so close to the European Athletics Championships in Zurich next month, shows she is moving towards a peak which could end with quite an outcome.

Croatian Vlasic won gold at the European Athletics Championships in 2010 but not since her silver at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu in 2011 has she made the podium.

But after making a full return to the sport this year, she has now moved on from the 1.98m she cleared at the Bislett Games in Oslo last month.

What is most significant is that she has gone over two metres. It is the first time she has achieved that outdoors since her return, and in that height alone her rivals will know that the former champion is planning on meaning business by the time of Zurich.

Staying in France, and on Monday, the Montreuil Pro Tour meeting took place which brought a superb win for French 100m hurdler Cindy Billaud as she ran 12.79 to beat Britain’s rival Tiffany Porter in 12.92.

In the discus at this European Athletics Outdoor Classic Meeting, Russia’s Yekaterina Strokova achieved a good victory, too, with 61.61m. Greece’s Ekaterini Stefanidi took the pole vault with 4.41m and Spain´s Eusebio Caceres won the long jump with 7.91m.

It is almost a year since the European Athletics Junior Championships in Rieti which saw France’s Wilhelm Belocian break the European Junior 110m hurdles record when he won gold in 13.18.

Now 19, he has taken the time down even more with another superb performance at the 21st Bauhaus Gala meeting in Mannheim at the weekend as he stormed to victory in 13.15 – the fifth fastest time in the world this year.

Impressive running for an athlete who could be included in the French team for Zurich where, of course, they will have one of the favourites as countryman Pascal Martinot-Lagarde is third on those world rankings with 13.05.

Fast times were very much on the agenda in Mannheim as Great Britain’s Adam Gemili, who has been concentrating more on the 200m this summer, ran a personal best of 10.04 in the heats of the 100m.

It moves him up to joint-seventh on the UK’s all-time list as he brought his mark down from 10.05.

Gemili did not run the final which was won by Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure also in 10.04 – but a windy one – while the Briton then won the 200m in 20.20.

Four years ago in Barcelona, Germany’s Lisa Ryzih won European bronze in the pole vault and now she is top of the European Athletics rankings after winning in Ottach-Egern on Saturday with 4.71m.

There was another European lead, this time set in Italy on Sunday, at the 28th Meeting Citta di Padova – a European Athletics Classic Permit Meeting.

The time came in the 400m for Italian Libania Grenot who won in 51.08 as she beat Germany’s Esther Cremer in 51.92.

In the 400m hurdles, Ukraine’s Hanna Titimets ran 55.47 to beat Jamaican Janieve Russel in 55.51 and in the 100m hurdles, her teammate Hanna Platitsyna won in 13.00.

In Burgas, the 2nd International meeting saw Bulgarian shot put record-holder Georgi Ivanov win with 20.53m as Radoslava Mavrodieva achieved 18.05m.

It was not all about the track at the weekend as Italy was also the venue for the 23rd road race Le Miglia di Agordo which brought home win for Anna Incerti over 5.4km in 17:15 and in the men’s 9.4km, Stefano La Rosa, in 27:47, ahead of Kenyan Paul Sugut in 27:47.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are 52 meetings this week. Visit our European Athletics Calendar for all the details.