With specialist indoor high jump competitions becoming evermore popular, the Italian city of Udine added its name to the growing roster in Europe with its inaugural event on Wednesday night (29).
Organised by the former Italian high jump indoor record holder Alessandro Talotti, who was also fourth at the 2002 European Athletics Championships, and staged with the assistance of European Athletics Green Inspiration Partner Mondo which had installed the Sportflex Super X surface at the Ovidio Bernes sports complex, a host of top international jumpers made their way to the north-east of the country for the first Udine Jump Development.
The women’s competition was won by Slovenia’s Marusa Cernjul with 1.87m, taking top honours thanks to her flawless record until she had three failures at 1.90m.
Cernjul's compatriot Lija Apostolovski and Italy’s 17-year-old Idea Pieroni also clearing 1.87m at their first attempt but finishing second and third respectively owing to failures at the earlier height of 1.84m.
Local star and two-time European U23 champion Alessia Trost struggled to find her best form in front of her home crowd and had to settle for fourth with 1.84m in her first competition since a change of coaches at the end of last summer to Roberto Vanzillotta.
“I certainly expected to jump something more,” reflected Trost. “It’s still hit and miss but we are working on the intensity of the take off at the moment.”
Trost, also a finalist at the last three editions of the European Athletics Championships, will next compete at the European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on 5 February and also the Banska Bystrica High Jump Meeting in Slovakia on 11 February is also in her diary.
Emphasising the international flavour of the meeting, which is looking to become a regular fixture on the international calendar, China’s Zhang Guowei – who trains in Siena, Italy, for much of the year – took the men’s contest with 2.27m.
VIP guests included the world record holder Javier Sotomayor, from Cuba, and Sweden’s Stefan Holm, as well as former European Athletics Council Member and Italian athletics federation president Alfio Giomi.
Twenty four seconds of silence was respected at the start of the meeting to honour Kobe Bryant, the time coinciding with the number of the late American basketball legend's LA Lakers jersey.