Men's jumps | 30.12.2012
|Ivan Ukhov claimed gold in the high jump in London.
Ivan Ukhov was the undoubted star of this event, not only in Europe but across the world, topped by his performance at the Olympics where he dominated the competition.
Both he and the US jumper Erik Kynard went over 2.33m at the first time of asking but by clearing 2.36m with his first try, Ukhov grabbed the lead and then clinched the gold medal with a first time clearance at 2.38m.
Ukhov had a busy year from January onwards, with seven indoor competitions, in which he cleared 2.30m or better in each one of them, and finished the winter with third place at the World Indoor Championships.
He quickly established himself outdoors when he cleared 2.37m in Opole, Poland, at the start of June, followed by world-leading 2.39m to win at a superb Russian Championships in July.
Three athletes cleared 2.35m or higher in Cheboksary, with 2010 European Athletics Championships gold medallist Aleksandr Shustov only third with 2.35m and the 2008 Olympic champion Andrey Silnov, who also took the silver medal at the 2012 World Indoor Championships, was second with a season’s best of 2.37m.
After the Olympics, Ukhov then went on clear 2.37m at the Lausanne Diamond League meeting, although he only finished second there, and then won at the Samsung Diamond League final, although it was not enough to clinch the Diamond Race and grab the $40,000 first prize.
The cash, instead, went to Great Britain's 2012 European champion Robbie Grabarz, the other European on the podium at the Olympics after finishing third.
It was a terrific year for the hugely improved 25-year-old Grabarz, whose best before the start of 2012 was 2.28m.
Grabarz gave notice of what was to come when he went over 2.34m indoors in the German city of Wuppertal in January.
His good form continued outdoors with a win and 2.33m clearance at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Rome.
In his next competition, he was able to challenge 2011 World champion Jesse Williams in New York. Both athletes cleared 2.36m on their first attempt, although the American claimed the win on home soil because Grabarz had a costly failure at his opening height.
Grabarz then triumphed at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki to become his country's first European champion in the event since Alan Paterson back in 1950.
Four men went over 2.28m but Grabarz was the only one to do so with his first attempt. and he consolidated his leading position by making 2.31m at the second attempt. Lithuania's inspired Raivydas Stanys also went over that height with his second try but, after both men had failed 2.33m, more failures in the competition meant he had to settle for second place.
The future for European men's high jumping looks bright as well with Belarus's Andrey Churyla and Germany''s Falk Wendrich taking the gold and silver medals at the IAAF World Junior Championships this summer, the latter still only 17.
France’s Renaud Lavillenie won all three major international titles this year with a stunning season, both indoors and outdoors.
Indoors, the Frenchman won four out of five competitions including at the World Indoor Championships, when he took his first global victory and went over 5.95m, the best result indoors in the world this year.
He then went on to win eight out of 10 competitions before the Olympic Games, included a great battle at European Athletics Championships with the German pair of Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe.
Despite the German challenge. Lavillenie executed first time clearances at 5.87m, 5.92m and finally 5.97m for his second straight European Athletics Championships gold medal while Otto and Holzdeppe had to settle for the silver and bronze medals respectively.
Like in Helsinki, the Olympic Games saw a cross-border duel between France and Germany. This time it was the 35-year-old Otto who took the lead in the with a first time clearance at 5.91m, followed quickly by Holzdeppe.
Lavillenie failed his first attempt at that height but opted to take his remaining two tries at 5.97m and he cleared with his last attempt, which proved to be the decisive vault.
Coincidently, in London, the medallists were in exactly the same order that they had been in Helsinki and no less than the top 12 places at the Olympics were filled by European vaulters.
Otto went on to clear 6.01m for the 2012 world-leading mark on home soil in Aachen in September and there were six Europeans who cleared 5.80m outdoors during the year. In addition to the trip already mentioned, there were: Germany's Malte Mohr, who was fourth at the Europeans and ninth at the Olympics; Great Britain's Steve Lewis, who was fifth at the Olympics; and Greece's Konstadínos Filippídis, who was fifth at the Europeans and seventh at the Olympics.
The world list was headed by two European jumpers who both managed 8.35m early in the summer: Great Britain’s Greg Rutherford and the Russian junior Sergey Morgunov.
The 26-year-old Rutherford equalled Chris Tomlinson’s British record at Chula Vista, California, on 3 May while the 19-year-old 2011 European Athletics Junior Championships gold medallist Morgunov acquired the world junior record in June at the Russian junior championships, improving by one centimetre a record which had stood since1972.
Both men also won major titles this summer, with Rutherford winning the biggest of them all at the Olympic Games. In London, he took the lead in round two with 8.21m and his win, perhaps surprisingly, was never to be in jeopardy after extending his lead with 8.31m in round four.
The prodigious Morgunov won at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona with 8.09m and had an advantage of 27cm but, with his initial ambitions fulfilled, he could not make the final in London.
Germany’s Sebastian Bayer won at the European Athletics Championships with an 8.34m leap, a distance which would have also got him the gold in London, and he also had a couple of huge fouls in the Helsinki competition.
However, the European indoor record holder was a little short of his best in at the Olympics and could only finish fifth in London with 8.10m.
When looking over the year, one also has to mention Sweden's Michel Tornëus, who had a consistently high-level summer.
He took the bronze medal behind Bayer and Spain's Luis Felipe Meliz, the latter producing his season's best of 8.21m in the Helsinki final, and then was fourth at the Olympics and just missed out on a medal by one centimetre.
After more than a decade when Europe has been able to claim having the best triple jumpers in the world thanks to the likes of Jonathan Edwards, Christian Olsson, Phillips Idowu and Teddy Tamgho, the pendulum has – hopefully just for the moment – swung back across the Atlantic.
The current continental number one is without doubt Italy’s 36-year-old Fabrizio Donato, who continues to defy Father Time.
He just missed out on a medal at the World Indoor Championships, finishing fourth, and then did not compete until the European Athletics Championships. However, his lack of competitive action prior to Helsinki was certainly no hindrance.
He bounded out to a wind-assisted 17.63m effort in the first round and that was to remain the winning jump as Donato took his first major international title outdoors.
Donato also had legal jumps of 17.53m and 17.49m in the next two rounds in Helsinki, which would have sufficed for victory.
The nearest anyone got to Donato in the Finnish capital was Ukraine's Sheryf El-Sheryf, whose windy effort of 17.28m in the first round netted him the silver medal. They were the only two men to go over 17 metres in the final.
Donato then took the bronze medal at the Olympic Games, his first medal in a global championship during his long career which is still far from concluding, with 17.48m. For good measure, he also won at the Samsung Diamond League final in Zurich with 17.29m.
The 2012 European lists are jointly topped by Donato's best legal effort of 17.53m in Helsinki and also Russia's Lyukman Adams, who went out to the same distance on home soil in Sochi in May.
After several seasons of finding his way in the senior ranks, after winning the 2007 European junior title, Adams had a breakthrough year in 2012.
Firstly, he was the leading European at the World Indoor Championships, taking the bronze medal with an impressive indoor best of 17.36m, and he also had several good wins outdoors, including at the Oslo Diamond League meeting and at the ever-competitive Russian Championships.
Next on the list, in terms of distance, is Donato's compatriot Daniele Greco who jumped 17.47m in June.
Greco, who had also been fifth at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. slightly injured himself in Helsinki but recovered quickly to finish fourth at the Olympics with 17.34m.
The 2012 European top 30 lists can be found here.