The women’s high jump this year should be an extremely interesting competition as 11 athletes have already cleared 2.00m. The battle for the gold is likely to be between the reigning world indoor and European champion, Kajsa BERGQVIST (SWE), and the world champion from Edmonton 2001 Hestrie CLOETE (RSA).
Bergqvist is leading the world list with her personal best of 2.06m set in Eberstadt on 26th July, but her season has been quite unstable on the whole After having trouble with her new run-up early in the season, she changed back to six steps and made a huge improvement, but the stress of the record jump caused an Achilles tendon injury. After her fourth place at the DN-Galan, with 1.95m, she changed her competition plan, dropping two Golden League meets and concentrated on healing her foot. Bergqvist’s success could be decided on how well her the foot stands the qualification round.
Cloete, on the other hand, has had four competitions in August, winning each one and clearing two meters plus each time. Her best mark was a new area record of 2.05m from Berlin. Cloete’s present form makes her a big favourite, but others might want to recall that in 1999, when she set her previous pb of 2.04m in early August in Monaco, she failed to qualify for the final in Seville.
At the Zurich Golden League meet, behind Cloete’s 2.03m victory, three contestants reached their pb at 2.01m. Vita PALAMAR (UKR), Blanka VLASIC (CRO) and Amy ACUFF (USA) showed that they cannot be left out when the medals are being discussed. Vlasic, still only 19 years old and 1.91m tall, will have a say in the future for sure. Acuff cleared two metres for the first time since 1997.
Russia’s Marina KUPTSOVA also cleared her pb 2.02m to put her third on the world list. Her best mark dates back to Hengelo on June 1 and she has not been able to reach the two meter mark since. She won the Russian Championships in Tula on 10th August with 1.98m ahead of Anna CHICHEROVA, who also has a mark over two meters this summer and cleared 2.04m indoors.
The experienced Ukrainian Inha BABAKOVA, the world champion from Seville 1999, could also be in the medal hunt. She cleared 2.01m in Oslo.