Ivan Ukhov in the high jump at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot (© Getty Images)
There were some wobbles at the 2.16m opening height for some of the pedigree jumpers in the field.
Donald Thomas of The Bahamas has a World Championship gold medal, circa 2007, and a 2.33m season’s best to his name but was unable to register a clearance at 2.16m – 15cm short of the automatic qualifying height.
Olympic bronze medallists Robbie Grabarz of Great Britain and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim also had their troubles, dislodging the bar with their heels at the first time of asking.
Both men succeeded with their second attempts but Grabarz continued to struggle, failing with his first attempts at 2.21m and 2.25m before finally bowing out at 2.28m.
In contrast, Barshim quickly got into his customary groove, the Asian record-holder negotiating 2.21m, 2.25m and 2.28m with ease to finish comfortably in the top eight and qualify for Sunday’s final.
In the end, there was no need for the bar to be raised to 2.31m.
Russia’s 2012 Olympic champion and 2014 world leader Ivan Ukhov did not bother to remove his tights as he sailed over 2.16m and 2.25m, seemingly in training mode. It will be different when it comes to the final tomorrow. The red-hot favourite has already announced that he will have his sights on Javier Sotomayor’s global indoor mark of 2.43m, as well as the gold medal.
The Russian will be joined in the final by team-mate Daniil Tsyplakov and Ukraine’s Andriy Protsenko, who both registered clean cards. Italy’s Marco Fassinotti, a training partner of Grabarz who cleared an Italian record of 2.34m recently, scraped through with a third-time clearance at 2.28m.
China’s Zhang Gouwei succeeded with a second-time clearance, then celebrated as he had done when making the 2011 World Championship final – by ripping off his vest, Robert Harting style.
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF