A chance for Vlasic to go that bit higher

A chance for Vlasic to go that bit higher
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For Croatia's Blanka Vlasic tonight's Prague Indoor meeting will be the second high jump contest since her return to the sport this year. She will try to improve on the 1.90m she achieved in Gothenburg earlier this month.

It should be quite a night at the O2 Arena in the Czech Republic’s capital on Tuesday evening as the venue stages the International Prague Indoor meeting.

And for Blanka Vlasic, it will be only the second high jump since her return to the sport this year after her Achilles problems, as she will try to improve on the 1.90m she achieved in Gothenburg earlier this month.

The IAAF World Indoor Championships start in just 10 days and Vlasic is excited by the prospect of this new era in her career.

She said: “I am very happy and can’t believe that I am healthy and ready to compete again. It isn`t easy to come back after my injury, I have to be strong and confident and try my best to get back on track.”

The Croatian is determined to regain the heights which made her one of the best of all-time and while Sopot might come too soon for her to achieve gold again, this summer’s European Athletics Championships in Zurich could be her stage once more.

Equally, in just over 12 months time, she should be seeking glory at the European Athletics Indoor Championships at this Prague arena where Tuesday night’s meeting will be a test event for 2015.

Speaking to Praha2015.org as she arrived in the city, Vlasic, who won European outdoor gold in Barcelona in 2010 but has never won it indoors, said: “All I do is focus on a new Blanka. I do not think about the past but I look to the future. I am back and I know that I can jump high again.

“The O2 Arena is amazing. When I saw it I got motivated even more. I am looking forward to competing here.”

Vlasic, who will face opposition from fellow Croatian Ana Simic, Russian Ekaterina Kuntsevich and Michaela Hruba, of the Czech Republic, will be just one of the stars of the show on Tuesday but the biggest of them could be Pavel Maslak, the Czech Republic’s European 400m champion.

He is heading to Sopot as a genuine medal hope and he could arrive in Poland as the European 500m record holder if he times his race to perfection at the O2 Arena.

His event will surely bring the biggest noise from the crowd, but Maslak is ready for the pain that the race will bring him.

He has a personal best of 1:01.15 as he chases the European record of 1:00.86 held by Israel’s Donald Sanford.

“I don`t know what to expect really,” said Maslak on Praha2015.org. “I just know it will hurt but I would like to improve the European 500m record.

The 400m is already considered one of the most strenuous events half ways between the sprints and middle-distance running, so the 500m must be even more excruciating.  

“I have never competed here, which is very exciting for me to try for the first time. The track is good so far, we will see how it will go during the competition.  The curves are a little bit different, they look quite longer.

“My family is coming here to support me - about seven of them. I am not nervous about running in front of them; actually I like it and enjoy it,” he added.

The Czech Republic’s Denisa Rosolová, the 2011 European 400m Indoor champion, runs in the 300m, while the men’s high jump should be an outstanding competition, led by Russia’s Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov, who is top of the world rankings with 2.41m, and teammate Aleksey Dmitrik, who is just behind him this winter with 2.40m.

The pre-programme starts at 3pm, the main programme begins at 5.10pm and Maslak’s race is the finale of the evening at 8.20pm.