News22 Jan 2007

German pole vaulters start season flying high in Dessau


Bjorn Otto of Germany (© Getty Images)

The Anhalt Indoor Arena provided perfect conditions for a remarkable season’s opening for German pole vaulters in Dessau, yesterday (21).

While there was another storm outside about 2000 spectators witnessed a different sort of storm indoors. It was Björn Otto who finally crowned the event by vaulting over 5.75m. Though one has to consider that it is still early in the season, his mark is a European season’s best. Worldwide he is the number one indoors right now. But of course outdoors in Australia Steve Hooker and Paul Burgess have already cleared 5.91m.

The women’s High Jump in Dessau was taken by Victoria Klugina (Russia) with 1.92m.

There should be more to come

When the bar was lifted to 5.70m in the Pole Vault there were still five of the ten jumpers in competition. They all had cleared 5.60m which was a unique feat for the meeting in Dessau, which saw its sixth edition. Among them were four Germans – all of them starting the season on that afternoon! This was most probably the best ever start to a season for Germany’s vaulters. And there was more to come.

5.70 m was a bit too high for Danny Ecker, who took fifth place. And it was the same with Tim Lobinger, who finished fourth. He had produced fine jumps at 5.40, 5.50 and 5.60 clearing these heights at once. “I was a bit unlucky at 5.70 m but this is okay for the start”, Lobinger said.

To the delight of the spectators Lars Börgeling and Otto cleared 5.70m at their third attempts. That meant that they had reached the national qualifying standard for the European Indoors. Before that Russia’s Igor Pavlov had looked the likely winner since he had cleared that height at once. But now he was in contention with two Germans again at 5.75m. Pavlov had jumped 5.70m before this season to share the world indoor lead.

And there was more pressure on the Russian: Otto, who had won here a year ago with 5.70m, showed a great first attempt when clearing 5.75m, height that was too much for Pavlov (2nd) and Börgeling (3rd).

“I had a good start into the season here last year. But I never started that well into an indoor campaign”, said Otto, who did not try another height after his winning jump. Already his first two jumps of the competition had been very impressive. His clearances at first attempts at 5.40 and 5.60 looked perfect with plenty of room to the bar.

“It is even more surprising since I have come to competition straight from plenty of training. But the build-up for the season went very well this time. I had no problems at all, not even a cold. After this start there should be more to come”, Otto said. The 29-year-old will do the European Indoor Champs should he qualify.

German High Jump talent emerges

There was more good news for German athletics in the women’s high jump – a discipline that had been a really weak one in the years after Heike Henkel and Alina Astafei. 20 year-old Julia Hartmann showed a perfect start into the season. She cleared 1.92m at her second attempt, which meant that she had reached the national qualifying standard for the European Indoors in Birmingham. Delighted by her success, which was a personal best as well, she settled for second and did not go for 1.95m. Taking her performance in Dessau this height seems well possible for Julia Hartmann this season.

“My training had gone really well so I had hoped for 1.89m – but 1.92m, this is superb. I hope that I can further improve. And the European Indoors are a big goal now,” said Hartmann. After she had to have surgery because of tonsillitis in September she could not start training before mid November. “I was not even sure if I would compete indoors at all.”

Another young German jumper did well as well. Annett Engel jumped 1.89 m for third place and then had a good attempt at 1.92m.

Klugina – looking good

But there was no danger for the eventual victor Victoria Klugina. The Russian made no mistake when clearing 1.78, 1.82, 1.86, 1.89 and 1.92 at once. But may be that was already too much jumping. Additionally there was no competition left. Klugina, who is the season’s leader with fellow country woman Anna Chicherova with 1.96m, had looked capable of more. But she failed at 1.95 m.

“I think we have seen one of the strongest fields at these events in this German indoor season. The pole vault was a great success for our meeting”, said meeting organiser Ralph Hirsch. In a region with relatively high unemployment he kept ticket prices very low. For just six Euros people could watch high-class athletics for three hours.

Jörg Wenig for the IAAF

Click here for FULL RESULTS

Pages related to this article