Russian high jumper beats Mutaz Essa Barshim, as Britain’s Robbie Grabarz has a disappointing night in Birmingham
At last year’s IAAF World Championships in London, Mutaz Essa Barshim and Danil Lysenko finished one-two. But Lysenko reversed the order on Thursday evening in Birmingham to win the world indoor title.
The duo were locked in battle in the latter stages of a competition which was showcased – along with the women’s high jump – in the centre of the arena. The contest boiled down to who could clear 2.36m and after the Qatari athlete failed his third attempt Lysenko sailed over it to win.
In third was Mateusz Przybylko of Germany, while Britain’s Robbie Grabarz finished equal ninth after clearing 2.20m on his third attempt and then failing at 2.25m.
The night belonged to Lysenko, although like his fellow Russian and women’s winner on the same evening, Maria Lasitskene, the IAAF flag was raised – and the global governing body anthem played – at the medals ceremony due to him representing the ‘authorised neutral athlete’ team.
“This is the most important result of my career,” said the 20-year-old, who in addition to World Championships silver last year won the World Youth Olympics title in 2013. “In London last year it was tough. But here, it was really a pleasure to jump with these guys.”
The crowd enthusiastically got behind the competition, although there were a disappointing number of empty seats at Arena Birmingham, especially in the back straight, probably largely due to snow-related travel problems in the UK.
“My emotions are so strong I cannot even describe it,” Lysenko added. “This is unbelievable, such a good result for me. Honestly, I did not expect to win this event and I did not think of it at all. I just tried to do my best until the end of the competition. I liked it here in Birmingham very much and the crowd was very supportive.”
Barshim said: “I’m happy with the medal but not quite the result, it didn’t really click today but that’s the sport. I wasn’t surprised Danil put in that jump. I was surprised that it took him until the third attempt but it’s good we can have that kind of competition to push us to jump higher.”
Grabarz enjoyed his event being put in the spotlight and the excitement of jumping in front of a home crowd and thought it was “great” that coaches were allowed so close to the action, but he was naturally disappointed with his own performance.
“It’s only five minutes from home and to come in last place is disappointing,” said Grabarz, who struggled with a few niggles in the run-up to the championships and was forced to miss the British Championships. “The competition didn’t really seem to get started for a variety of reasons but it’s a big shame. For the Commonwealths I can’t perform like that or I won’t even reach the final.”
» See the March 8 issue of AW for full coverage from the IAAF World Indoor Championships