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Previews28 Feb 2024

WIC Glasgow 24 preview: high jump


Yaroslava Mahuchikh and Woo Sanghyeok at the World Indoor Championships (© Getty Images)

Women’s high jump

Timetable | 2024 world list | world all-time listworld rankings

If the early-season action is anything to go by, the women’s high jump at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 – and, indeed, for the duration of the year – is going to be extraordinary. 

Australia’s Olympic silver medallist Nicola Olyslagers began her season ideally in Canberra on 27 January by equalling the area record of 2.03m she set in Eugene last year.

Gauntlet thrown down.

Four days later, 22-year-old Ukrainian Yaroslava Mahuchikh, the Olympic bronze medallist, opened her year in Cottbus with a clearance of 2.04m, a centimetre shy of her outdoor best, before ending her competition with a smile, and folded arms.

Gauntlet taken up.

When these two athletes converge in Glasgow, the result is likely to be spectacular.

Mahuchikh will be defending the title she won two years ago in Belgrade, a first global victory which was followed by a world outdoor title in Budapest last summer, when Olyslagers took bronze.

But the circumstances for the Ukrainian phenomenon are, thankfully, very different from those she experienced before the 2022 World Athletics Indoor Championships.

Back then she had reached the Serbian capital after making a three-day journey of 2000km by car after fleeing Russian bombardment of her home city, Dnipropetrovsk.

As the war in Ukraine continued, she established a training base in Germany which has enabled her to prepare in a less traumatic fashion.

It would be extraordinary enough for Mahuchikh simply to continue competing in such circumstances; but she has taken her achievements to another level in the space of the past year.

Neither athlete, however, can afford to be complacent given the overall strength of the field in Glasgow. Olyslagers’ compatriot Eleanor Patterson, who set what was then an Oceanian record of 2.02m to win the 2022 world outdoor title and who took silver in Budapest last year on countback, is also in the mix.

Patterson has yet to hit the heights – her season’s best of 1.93m in mid February was followed by 1.85m in the last of this year’s World Indoor Tour Gold meetings in Madrid on 23 February. But as they say, form is temporary, class is permanent…

Other medal contenders include Vashti Cunningham of the United States, joint fourth on this year’s world list on 1.97m and with an outdoor personal best of 2.02m.

Cunningham won the world indoor title in the home setting of Portland in 2016 as an 18-year-old, and added world indoor silver in Birmingham two years later before taking world outdoor bronze in 2019.

Level with her in the list is another outstanding talent in the form of 18-year-old Serbian Angelina Topic, who equalled her personal best of 1.97m in Slovakia on 13 February.

Topic, whose father Dragutin won the European high jump title in 1990 and whose mother missed a world triple jump medal by one place in 2009, announced her presence in senior international competition aged 17 when she became the youngest medallist at the 2022 European Championships in Munich, claiming bronze behind gold medallist Mahuchikh and silver medallist Marija Vukovic of Montenegro.

Others to watch include Mahuchikh’s compatriot Yulia Levchenko, who won world silver and European indoor bronze in 2017 and added a European indoor bronze two years later in the Glasgow Arena, and Britain’s Morgan Lake, who has a best of 1.92m so far this season but who set a national record of 1.99m last year and could challenge for a home podium appearance.


Men’s high jump

Timetable | 2024 world list | world all-time listworld rankings

South Korea’s Woo Sangyheok looks in good shape to defend his title when he competes at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 as joint leader of this year’s world list.

Woo cleared 2.33m on 10 February at the dedicated high jump meeting in the Czech venue of Hustopece, where in 2022 he recorded his personal best of 2.36m.

But it was not quite enough to earn the ebullient Korean victory. That went, on countback, to his fellow 27-year-old Shelby McEwen of the United States, who equalled his personal best and who looks like being Woo’s main rival in the Glasgow Arena.

Since missing an Olympic medal by one place in Tokyo, Woo has been a regular visitor to the medal podium, winning gold at the 2022 World Indoor Championships in Belgrade and then earning silver at that year’s World Championships in Oregon as he equalled his outdoor personal best of 2.35m.

Last year, although he finished sixth at the World Championships, he earned Asian Games silver and finished the season by becoming Diamond League champion.

McEwen’s CV does not glitter in the same way, but it attests to his high level consistency in recent years. He made the Tokyo Olympic final, finishing 12th, then finished fifth at the 2022 World Championships in Oregon and seventh at the following year’s edition in Budapest.

His most recent exploits in Hustopece offer clear evidence that he is ready to step for the first time on to a major international podium. The question is: which step?

But others in the field have already had the experience of big-time podium appearances.

Germany’s Tobias Potye, European silver medallist in 2022, is one of three jumpers currently on the next step down in the world lists on 2.30m who will be present in Glasgow, the others being Jan Stefela of the Czech Republic and Ukraine’s Oleh Doroshchuk.

Also in the line-up will be Doroschuk’s fellow Ukrainian Andrii Protsenko, 35, who earned world outdoor bronze in 2022, eight years after taking world indoor silver in Sopot.

Look out also for Poland’s Norbert Kobielski, who has jumped 2.33m, and New Zealand’s Hamish Kerr, the Commonwealth champion and world indoor bronze medallist two years ago in Belgrade.

Mike Rowbottom for World Athletics

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