Ukhov leading the way to high jump’s new golden age
There was an audible groan of dismay when Ivan Ukhov failed to make a serious first attempt at the height of 2.43m in Friday night’s IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha. It was no more than a natural spectator reaction, similar in nature to the groan that is evinced by a false start.
But in truth those present in the Qatar Sports Club stadium on what was a warm and wonderful night for athletics had no reason for disappointment.
By the time Ukhov turned away from the bar set at a European record height, with – by his own admission – a focus already shifting to a waiting bus and a plane leaving Qatar in a couple of hours’ time, history had already been made in the competition.
Never before had four men cleared 2.37m in a high jump competition.
Erik Kynard, who took Olympic silver behind Ukhov two years ago, equalled his personal best in clearing first time, before making three good attempts at 2.39m, the last of which was so close he was left thrashing about with frustration on the landing pit.
Derek Drouin and home jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, who took a share of Olympic bronze in London, also succeeded, the Canadian with his first attempt, the Qatari athlete on his third.
Ukhov didn’t actually clear 2.37m, having moved straight up to 2.39m after his first failure. It was a gamble which paid off as he cleared the next two heights, 2.39m and 2.41m – an IAAF Diamond League record, 2014 world-leading effort, a Russian record and, naturally, a meeting record – at his first attempt.
The man whose 2.42m indoors earlier this year has only ever been bettered by Sotomayor thus became the equal third best jumper outdoors in history.
If this is what we got from the opening IAAF Diamond League meeting of the season, what might we expect from this event come the end of the year?