Women's jumps | 30.12.2012
|Ukraine's Olha Saladuha claimed gold at Helsinki 2012 and
bronze in London.
Anna Chicherova started the year as she finished 2011 by winning, and jumping high.
The Russia, who won at the 2011 World Championships, compiled compiled a perfect record from her five indoor meetings prior to the World Indoor Championships, including a national indoor record of 2.06m in the German town of Arnstadt.
Unfortunately, back problems restricted her to clearing just 1.95m for a share of second place.
Nevertheless, she bounced back quickly from that disappointment and got her international outdoor campaign under way by cleating 2.02m at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Eugene on 2 June before going home and winning at the Russian Championships with 2.03m.
Despite further back problems during July, Chicherova still had the talent and tenacity to win at the Olympics at her third attempt, having finished sixth in 2004 and then third four years ago.
In London, she had no misses through to 2.03m before making 2.05m on her second attempt.
Chicherova was joined on the podium in London by her compatriot Svetlana Shkolina.
Shkolina arrived at the Olympics in good form having cleared 2.00m, 1.98m and 2.01m in her three meetings prior to London, having only lost to Chicherova in Eugene and the Russian Championships, and then excelled to clear a personal best of 2.03m for the bronze medal at the Olympics.
After the Olympics, she had three more meetings at 2.00m or better, including a win at 2.00m at the Samsung Diamond League final in Brussels.
A third Russian, Irina Gordeyeva, occupies the second spot on the 2012 world list thanks to her 2.04m jump in Eberstadt, Germany, just eight days after the Olympics where she was down in 10th with just 1.93m.
The other European to clear 2.00m this year was Spain's Ruth Beitia, who went over exactly that height in her home town of Santander in July at a meeting sandwiched between the European Athletics Championships and the Olympics.
In Helsinki, now 33, Beitia was a delighted winner after picking up her first major international title as a senior after three European Athletics Indoor Championships silver medals.
Beitia was pressed all the way by the Norwegian surprise Tonje Angelsen. Both women cleared 1.97m on their third attempts, which was a personal best for Angelsen, before failing at 1.99m but Beitia took the gold medal because her rival had a costly failure earlier in the competition.
Germany's Silke Spiegelburg was the best European vaulter this summer in terms of height, having cleared a national record of 4.82m at the Samsung Diamond League Meeting in Monaco in July, but she didn't get a solitary medal from the three major championships in 2012, having finished fourth at the World Indoor Championships, European Athletics Championships and Olympic Games!
By contrast. Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva may not be the force she once was and has lost the aura of invincibility that she once had but she was still the continent's best representative at the two major global championships this year, winning at the World Indoor Championships and finishing third at the Olympic Games.
Into the bargain, and rather out-of-the-blue, she improved her own world indoor record to 5.01m in Stockholm in February.
Another vaulter to hit the heights indoors but leave her best form under cover was Great Britain’s Holly Bleasdale.
Bleasdale, who has just turned 20, and improved dramatically in late January and went over 4.87m, a height that only three others have ever surpassed either outdoors or indoors.
She went on to get the bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships but her outdoor season never quite took off in the same fashion although, to be fair, she did take her national record up to 4.71m at the UK Championships and finish sixth at the Olympics.
The European title in wet and windy conditions went to Czech Republic's Jirina Ptácníková, one of three women over 4.60m. However, her first time clearance secured the gold medal.
Another gold medal was acquired by Swedish teenager and 2012 European Rising Star of the Year Angelica Bengtsson, who won at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona to complete clean sweep of age-group honours after winning everything on offer at youth and junior level since 2009.
Russia's Anna Nazarova jumped 7.11m in Moscow to head the 2012 European list and Belarus's Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova went out to 7.08m in familiar surrounding in Minsk but the woman who had the distance in her legs on foreign soil was Russia's Yelena Sokolova.
Sokolova went over seven metres for the first time with 7.06mto win at the Russian Championships and then improved her best to 7.07m in the second round of the Olympic final for the silver medal in London.
There were 10 Europeans in that final but Sokolova was the only one to get a place on the podium.
Latvia’s 2010 European champion Ineta Radevica following up her 2011 World Championships bronze medal with fourth place in London with 6.88m while Nazarova was fifth with 6.77m.
Sokolova then rattled off three good wins at Samsung Diamond League meetings in Stockholm, Lausanne and Zurich after the Olympics to take the Diamond Race and the $40,000 first prize.
The European title had gone six weeks before to France's Éloyse Lesueur who jumped a season's legal best of 6.81m (she had a windy 7.04m earlier in the summer) in the first round which proved to be good enough for gold. Lesueur went on to finish eighth in the Olympic final.
Five European women went over seven metres this year.
In addition to Nazarova, Mironchyk-Ivanova and Sokolova, Russia's Olga Kucherenko - who was unlucky to miss out on Olympic selection after finishing fourth at the Russian championships - and Belarus's Veronika Shutkova, who was to finish 10th in London, also went beyond that standard with 7.03m and 7.01m respectively, both distances achieved in local competitions.
Ukraine’s Olha Saladuha confirmed that she is the top European triple jumper for the third year running, both in terms of honours and distance.
The defending world and European champion was a class apart at the European Athletics Championships and as good as clinched the gold medal with her first effort of 14.99m, which was to prove to be the best jump in the world this year.
All three of Saladuha's other valid efforts were also well in excess of Patricia Momona's Portuguese national record of 14.52m, which won her the silver medal.
At the Olympic Games, Saladuha had to settle for the bronze medal but was still the leading European by reasonable margin, getting on the podium with her final round effort of 14.79m.
Earlier in the year, there was a big surprise when Great Britain’s 39-year-old Yamilé Aldama bounded out to 14.82m, her longest jump for six years, to take the gold medal at the World indoor Championships.
Aldama, in front of her friends and family, was to finish fifth at the Olympics.
Three other European women went beyond 14.70m this year.
Belarus's Kseniya Dzetsuk notched up a national record of 14.76m in Brest for second on the 2012 European outdoor list but then added to the impression that her country's horizontal jumpers far too often leave their best form at home when she had two poor showings at the major championships, finishing last in the final in Helsinki and failing to register a valid jump in the London qualifying rounds.
Ukraine's Hanna Knyazyeva and Greece's Athanasía Pérra both went out to 14.71m to win their national titles in mid-June; the latter then finished fourth at the Olympics, losing a medal to her compatriot Saladuha in the last round.
The World Junior Championships also featured a pair of European jumpers in the top two slots. In an exciting battle in Barcelona for the gold medal, Spain’s Ana Peleteiro improved by 67cm and Lithuania’s Dovile Dzindzalietaite by 44cm, with both women reaching the same distance of 14.17m.
Peleteiro won, the host nation's only medal in the Catalan city, due to having a better second jump, and her future is particularly bright as she still has two more years in the junior ranks.
The 2012 European top 30 lists can be found here.