Zhang Guowei, winner of the high jump at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Oslo (© Mark Shearman)
China’s high jump hero Zhang Guowei is set to star at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai on 14 May, where he will come face-to-face with Bogdan Bondarenko.
The pair matched each other height for height at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 last summer and finished joint second, each getting a silver medal.
On height, they ended the season just one centimetre apart, pacing second and third on the 2015 world high jump list. They also finished second and third in the 2015 Damond Race.
They met five times during the outdoor season and leapt the same height at three of those meetings, so another close battle is expected in 2016.
For Zhang, 2015 was something of a breakthrough year as the head-banded showman improved his personal best by four centimetres to 2.38m. He also picked up a first global medal to go with the Asian Games silver he won in 2014.
He now ranks just one centimetre below the legendary former world record-holder Zhu Jianhua on China’s all-time high jump list and he has already eclipsed Zhu’s national indoor record.
Bondarenko started last season in style by leaping 2.37m in early May, but the 2013 world and 2014 European champion couldn’t quite reach the heights of two years ago when he imporoved the Ukrainian record to 2.42m, at the time moving up to joint second on the world all-time list.
The pair have clashed twice at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai over the past last three years with Bondarenko finishing second, one place ahead of his Chinese rival, in 2013 and again 12 months ago when they both cleared 2.32m, when they were beaten by Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim.
Organisers for the IAAF
2016 IAAF Diamond League calendar
6 May – Doha, QAT
14 May – Shanghai, CHN
22 May – Rabat, MAR
28 May – Eugene, USA
2 Jun – Rome, ITA
5 Jun – Birmingham, GBR
9 Jun – Oslo, NOR
16 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
15 Jul – Monaco, MON
22-23 Jul – London, GBR
25 Aug – Lausanne, SUI
27 Aug – Paris, FRA
1 Sep – Zurich, SUI
9 Sep – Brussels, BEL