Croatia's Blanka returns from her lost years

Vlasic returns from her lost years
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Croatia's Blanka Vlasic will make her return to competion in Gothenburg on Saturday and then in Prague at the end of the month as she aims to make the World Indoor Championships in Sopot at the start of March.

It is almost three years since she made the podium in the high jump and seven months since she last competed, but the smile is still wide and the ambition as rich as it ever was. Croatia's Blanka Vlasic is back, and ready to resume her career at the highest level.                                                        

“Naturally, I have never stopped thinking of jumping to new heights, including breaking the world record,” says Vlasic. “I am confident I will be able to try for 2.10m again and hopefully I can clear the bar at that height.

Gone are the problems which forced the double World champion and 2010 European champion out of competition these past two seasons.

She missed the Olympics in 2012 after the healing process from an Achilles operation prevented her from being ready for London and though she returned last summer - she last competed at the IAAF Diamond League in Monaco where she jumped 1.98m and finished third - she missed the World Championships in Moscow.

But now she is ready to start fresh, firstly competing in Gothenburg on Saturday and then in Prague at the end of the month as she aims to make the World Indoor Championships in Sopot at the start of March.

That is a title she has won twice, and if there are no problems, she will then look towards the summer and the European Athletics Championships in Zurich where she could become one of the biggest stars of the show.

The Croatian has an indoor personal best of 2.06m and an outdoor one of 2.08m, the latter being just one centimetre shy of the world record height that Bulgaria’s Stefka Kostadinova set at the World Championships in Rome nearly 27 years ago.

Vlasic, who last won a medal when she finished second at the World Championships in Daegu in 2011, had cleared 2.08m two years earlier and now at the age of 30, she is ready to re-start her career in style.

“There isn't such a high expectation,” she said speaking on her website,

“Until now, I can safely say everything has gone according to plan – in fact, really well, which is a lot better than I had originally anticipated.

“I have managed to break a few record jumps while training but of course, this doesn't automatically mean I will become the best in the world.

“One thing which I would like to do is get through the plan for the winter - namely two meetings and a World Indoor Championships."

Her father and coach, Josko Vlasic, gave greater insight into how well training has gone.

He said: “Blanka is now quicker, stronger and more explosive than ever before. She is so fast that sometimes I am scared to look at her running towards that bar.”

She has been through enough to know nothing happens overnight, and now she is ready to put the past behind as she enters the second part of her career.