News28 Dec 2013

2013 end-of-year reviews – jumps


Teddy Tamgho in the mens Triple Jump Final at the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013 (© Getty Images)

Statisticians A Lennart Julin and Mirko Jalava look back on the best jumps performances of the year with Julin covering the men’s events and Jalava the women’s.

Men’s high jump

Usually post-Olympic years are calm, but thanks to four jumpers – Bohdan Bondarenko, Mutaz Essa Barshim, Derek Drouin and Erik Kynard – this was certainly not the case for the men’s high jump in 2013 as they made jumping at the 2.40m region a far-from-futile pursuit.

Bondarenko even made 2.40m-plus jumps look ‘probable’ rather than just ‘possible’ in a way the world hasn’t witnessed since the heydays of Javier Sotomayor some 20-25 years ago.

A former super talent beset for years by injuries, Bondarenko finally got the chance to fulfil that early promise. His 2.33m for the win at the IAAF Diamond League opener in Doha was just the beginning.

Bondarenko first showed his new super lift-off at the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham where he cleared 2.36m with ease. He didn’t try anything higher as he had Lausanne scheduled just four days later. There came his 2.41m and world record attempts at 2.46m. In London three weeks later he cleared 2.38m with attempts at 2.47m and finally at the IAAF World Championships – following a bold every-other-height strategy – he cleared 2.41m and attempted 2.46m.

Although Bondarenko was impressive this summer, he still didn’t have the event to himself as the likes of Barshim, Drouin and Kynard were still jumping when the bar closed in on the 2.40m heights. Barshim actually beat Bondarenko in joining the 2.40m club by making that height at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene.

In Moscow it took 2.38m to win a medal, something that has happened only once before, at the 1987 World Championships.

Until now, Russia had been considered the leading nation in this event for decades, but despite being the host nation of this year’s World Championships, they had no part in the 2013 revolution of the event. Even their Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov could only finish fourth in Moscow.

Men’s pole vault

Renaud Lavillenie has won it all – almost. He has one Olympic gold medal, two European, one world indoor and three European indoor titles. But the outdoor world title has so far proved elusive.

After bronze medals in 2009 and 2011, an even more agonising silver followed this year in Moscow. There is no doubt that Lavillenie has been the foremost vaulter in recent years as proven by him winning the Diamond Race every year since 2010.

But on any given day Lavillenie is still vulnerable, and despite having the top seven performances this summer, he lost the world title on count-back to Raphael Holzdeppe. It was no surprise that a German would defeat him as they have consistently provided his toughest opposition and in Moscow they filled three of the top five places.

Former pole vault superpowers USA and Russia are currently struggling. 2007 world champion Brad Walker was the only US finalist in Moscow where he ended up fourth, missing a medal only on count-back. Host nation Russia had to be content with an eighth place as their other two vaulters didn’t advance from the qualification.

For the upcoming Olympic host Brazil, however, the future looks bright as Augusto de Oliveira and 2012 world junior champion Thiago da Silva raised their games significantly in 2013, taking turns at raising the South American record beyond 5.80m. The 23-year-old de Oliveira showed great consistency at the 5.70m+ level and reached the Moscow final.

Men’s long jump

The USA can claim six of the seven top long jumpers of all-time, but in 2013 their leading athlete tied for 15th place on world List and only four-time world champion Dwight Phillips – in his farewell season at age 35 – managed to reach the final of the World Championships.

The already exceptional geographical diversity of this event became even more pronounced this year. In Moscow the twelve finalists represented eleven different nations from Europe, Africa and Asia as well as North, Central and South America.

Last year Russia’s Aleksandr Menkov had a brilliant season of consistent 8.20m jumping with only one small blip in the Olympic final where he ended up 11th. The 2013 Menkov was even better with consistent 8.30m jumping – and this time everything also worked out when it mattered the most.

After a somewhat conservative 8.14m in the first round in Moscow, Menkov produced the three longest jumps of his career so far: 8.52m, 8.43m and finally 8.56m, all with negligible wind assistance.

Behind Menkov, the picture of this season was quite unclear as Olympic champion Greg Rutherford didn’t quite manage to catch up after an operation. The previously unheralded Mexican Luis Rivera defeated Menkov at the World University Games and got the bronze in Moscow behind Ignisious Gaisah who took his second world silver eight years after the first. Just missing out on a medal was resurging former junior star Eusebio Caceres of Spain.

Men’s triple jump

In triple jump history, 2013 will be remembered as the year when world indoor record-holder Teddy Tamgho returned to the competitive scene after a break of twenty months caused by a career-threatening injury.

But Tamgho didn’t just return. He won the world title by 36cm, and his winning leap of 18.04m made him just the third 18-metre jumper in history.

Except for the exploits of the Frenchman – who in Moscow had narrow fouls which looked to be in the region of the world record – 2013 was a fairly low-key year for the event. At just 17, the number of 17-metre jumpers was the lowest for more than thirty years. In the previous post-Olympic year of 2009, there were more than twice as many.

The dip will likely pass quickly though, as the current group of leading jumpers is quite young. At 24, Tamgho is the oldest in the top six as the reigning Olympic champion Christian Taylor is one year younger, while world indoor champion Will Claye is two years younger.

Add to that the two latest products of the Cuban conveyor belt for world class triple jumpers, Pedro Pablo Pichardo and Ernesto Reve. World junior champion Pichardo improved by 90cm this year and took the silver medal in Moscow, while 2010 world junior silver medallist Reve was the Cuban champion and had four jumps beyond 17.30m before missing Moscow through injury.

Women’s high jump

It was as different a season as one could have imagined in the women’s high jump. With two-time world champion Blanka Vlasic back in competition, and Olympic champion Anna Chicherova looking to retain her 2011 world title from Daegu, all the talk was about a duel between them at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.

Sadly, the duel never happened with the Croatian stopping her season after the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco in July, despite jumping two metres in June, giving Chicherova a seemingly clear path to gold.

But it wasn’t so easy as the Russian was also struggling for form during the season. She cleared 2.02m in Beijing in May and then 2.01m at the Diamond League in Paris, but overall wasn’t in the same form she had in 2011 and 2012.

Instead it was USA’s Brigetta Barrett who went to Moscow with a world-leading 2.04m from the US Championships. The 22-year-old won the silver at the London Olympics, so she wasn’t a newcomer, but being the favourite was new.

With Chicherova failing to clear two metres in Moscow and ending up with a joint bronze with Spain’s Ruth Beitia, many thought Barrett would win gold, but little did they know.

Instead 27-year-old Russian Svetlana Shkolina, the Olympic bronze medallist who went to Moscow with a season’s best of just 1.98m, surprised everyone – including Barrett – with a first-time clearance at 2.03m. It brought her an unprecedented gold medal in front of a happy home crowd, while Barrett won another silver with 2.00m.

Women’s pole vault

There were three athletes capable of winning the world pole vault title in Moscow.

USA’s 31-year-old Jenn Suhr was the first one to go big, setting a world indoor record of 5.02m at the US Indoor Championships in March.

Also 31, Yelena Isinbayeva’s previous world title had aged six years before the Moscow final. The Russian only competed three times before the World Championships, but results of 4.70m, 4.78m and 4.75m were good enough to guarantee she would be fighting for the top podium.

The most consistent athlete during the season was Olympic silver medallist Yarisley Silva, who set three Caribbean records indoors and two outdoors with a world-leading 4.90m coming in Hengelo in June. The 26-year-old Cuban rose to a new level in 2013, recording her nine best career results this season.

The top trio didn’t meet too many times before Moscow, but Silva was stronger than Suhr in the last two clashes in Birmingham and London. All three athletes were still within contention for the title in Moscow at the deciding height of 4.89m with Suhr leading the competition.

But once more Isinbayeva was the one who rose to the occasion and a first-time clearance at a season’s best of 4.89m sealed her third world title in front of a delighted Russian crowd.

Suhr took silver with an outdoor season’s best of 4.82m, while Silva won her first World Championships medal with the same height for bronze.

Women’s long jump

This season started with a blast with Olympic champion Brittney Reese exploding to a 7.25m personal best and Diamond League record in Doha. With a start like that, many thought it would be a piece of cake for her to add a third world title, but things didn’t go smoothly for the US 27-year-old during the season.

She could only jump 5.99m at the Diamond League meeting in New York and then was left with no mark at all at the US Championships in June. With a good 6.96m result in Lausanne, her last meeting before Moscow, Reese was in big trouble in the World Championships qualification.

Her 6.57m finally made it through in the last qualifying spot – and even then, only on count-back - but in the final it was business as usual with her 7.01m leap enough for her third straight world title.

German surprise name Sosthene Taroum Moguenara jumped a big personal best 7.04m in August in her last meeting before Moscow, but despite making the final there the 24-year-old finished in 12th place.

Many thought that Nigerian Blessing Okagbare, in terrific running form in 2013, would be able to challenge Reese in Moscow, but she could quite not find a way to produce a perfect jump. Nevertheless, her 6.99m for the silver medal was by no means a disappointment. The 25-year-old jumped a 7.00m personal best in Monaco and went even longer with wind assistance, jumping 7.14m in Doha and 7.04m in Monaco.

With top Russians Darya Klishina and Lyudmila Kolchanova failing to produce good marks in Moscow, Serbian Ivana Spanovic snatched a surprise bronze with a 6.82m national record.

Women’s triple jump

The early season in the women’s triple jump suggested it would be another successful campaign for Olha Saladuha. The 30-year-old Ukrainian won the world title in Daegu 2011 and had set a personal best of 14.99m to win the European title in Helsinki before taking Olympic bronze in London.

A 14.88m national indoor record for the European title in Gothenburg and an early 14.85m season’s best at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene suggested her form would only get better towards Moscow. But it didn’t, and that opened the door for another top jumper, Caterine Ibarguen, who won the silver in London 2012 and bronze in Daegu 2011.

The 29-year-old Colombian, who in addition to the triple jump (14.99m) also holds national records in the high jump (1.93m) and long jump (6.73m), was impressive during the 2013 season. She won all of her meetings before and after Moscow, making it nine wins in nine meets.

In Moscow she produced her winning jump of 14.85m in round two, tying Saladuha’s world-leading mark, but slightly short of the marginally wind-assisted 14.93m jump Ibarguen set in Eugene.

Russian Yekaterina Koneva won the silver with 14.81m in Moscow with Saladuha in third with 14.65m.

A Lennart Julin and Mirko Jalava for the IAAF