World Championships Day 8: Women's High Jump Report by M. Nicole Nazzaro


Luzhniki Stadium , photo by

Here is Mary Nicole Nazzaro's feature on the women's high jump, from Moscow, Russia....

World Championships Day 8: Women's High Jump Report
by M. Nicole Nazzaro
Russia missed a big chance to create another Yelena Isinbaeva moment Saturday evening at the world track and field championships. Maybe it was too much to expect them to capture lightening in a bottle twice in one week. But the Russian women's high jumpers still gave the partisan crowd something to cheer about, as the surprise gold went to Russia's Svetlana Shkolina with a 2.03m clearance.
Shkolina's gold-medal winning jump equaled her personal best. The silver went to the lively American Brigetta Barrett, also the Olympic silver medalist from London, who cleared 2.00m before missing all three attempts at 2.03m, the last as she pulled up and didn't attempt to leave the ground. Shkolina looked visibly shocked as she realized that she had just won world gold.
Isinbaeva's equal in women's high jumping in Russia is the willowy Anna Chicherova (CHEE-cher-oh-vah). Featured in Nike's Russia advertisements here, she was the heavy favorite in this final after former world gold medalist Blanka Vlasic withdrew from the event.
Chicherova, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and defending world champion, holds a personal best of 2.07m. Though much less well known in the West than her pole-vaulting teammate, she nevertheless had the pedigree to send the nearly-full Luzhniki Stadium crowd into peals of cheers should she repeat her past triumphs. Instead, in a competition that nearly took all of the air out of the stadium with its surprising flatness, Chicherova had to settle for a 1.97m clearance and three misses at 2.00m. She tied for the bronze medal with Ruth Beitia of Spain.
Beitia had previously placed fourth in the London Olympics after not making it out of the qualifying rounds in Daegu.
Shkolina made two attempts at 2.05m, which would have been a new personal best for her, but wasn't close on either try. The world and championship record is 2.09m, set by Bulgaria's legendary Stefka Kostadinova in 1987 in Rome.
Barrett has been featured in Russian television commercials advertising the meet all week - even gamely trying her hand at a bit of Russian. Her accented but still thoroughly recognizable Russian versions of "Hello, my name is Brigetta," "Welcome to Moscow!" and "Don't miss it!" (i.e. the track meet) underline how thoroughly international Moscow has become - and, one hopes, how much Russians have begun to gravitate towards this varied and diverse sport in the nine days of the world championships.
Chicherova and the rest of the Russia women's high jump team took a team victory lap with Russian flags after the competition, including her daughter, who sported a T-shirt that said, in Russian, "Mama, you need to jump!" (Mama, nado prygrats') It was a worthy celebration, just not quite the one Russians thought they would have as the evening unfolded.

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