Anna Chicherova at the 2013 Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Tokyo (© Yohei Kamiyama / Agence SHOT)
The women’s High Jump at the ExxonMobil Bislett Games in Oslo, the IAAF Diamond League meeting, will see the best exponents in the world facing each other in in what promises to be a great head-to-head competition on 13 June.
Seven of the assembled jumpers can boast of personal bests over two metres, the benchmark of world class quality.
Russia’s Reigning Olympic and World champion Anna Chicherova leads the world with the 2.02m she achieved at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Beijing last week and there will be enormous attention associated with the return of Croatia’s Blanka Vlasic, Chicherova’s predecessor as World champion, who has a personal best of 2.08m, just one centimetre below the long-standing World record of 2.09m which has been owned by Bulgaria’s Stefka Kostadinova since 1987.
Vlasic missed all of 2012 through injury and infection but showed a promising return to form in her first competition for well over a year when she won at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in New York on 25 May, in cold, wet and windy conditions that made quality jumping difficult.
In Oslo, with luck, the conditions will be far more conducive to ‘high’ jumping.
Russia’s Svetlana Shkolina gained her first major international medal as a senior when her personal best of 2.03m secured her a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
After several near misses at big events, including finishing fifth and sixth at the last two IAAF World Championships, the Russian will approach 2013 with greater confidence following her success in London.
Spain’s Ruth Beitia was on the verge of retirement 12 months ago, but she has gone on to win European titles, both outdoors and indoors, and has an affection for Scandinavia, having won those gold medals in Finland and Sweden. Will Norway also be as lucky for her?
Generating local interest is Tonje Angelsen. The 23-year-old had a breakthrough season last year, winning a silver medal at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki behind Beitia and producing a new personal best of 1.97m.
Can Angelsen maintain her improvement and challenge Hanne Haugland’s national record of 2.01m, which has been on the books since 1997?
Great curiosity will also surround the appearance of Italy’s Alessia Trost. After winning the IAAF World Junior Championships last year, she was the dominant figure of the indoor season, apart from a disappointing outing at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Gothenburg, and she also cleared 2.00m. It appears that again the Italians have another quality female high jumper in the tradition of Simeoni and Di Martino.
The Bislett Stadium will provide the atmosphere and the setting for what will hopefully be another extraordinary competition.
The track, after all, is where Romania’s Iolanda Balas, who many people rate as the greatest female high jumper of the 20th century, started her ascent which lead to two Olympic Games gold medals when she established a World junior best of 1.70m in 1955.
Organisers for the IAAF
2013 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 10 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
New York, USA – 25 May
Eugene, USA – 1 Jun
Rome, ITA – 6 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 13 Jun
Birmingham, GBR – 30 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 4 Jul
Paris, FRA – 6 Jul
Monaco, MON – 19 Jul
London, GBR – 26-27 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 22 Aug
Zürich, SUI – 29 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 6 Sep