Gamesmanship pays for Bohdan
Updated: 2013-08-17 08:32
By Agence France-Presse in Moscow (China Daily)
The multi-colored shoes of Bohdan Bondarenko on display in their full glory during the men's high jump final on Thursday. Denis Balibouse / Reuters
Ukrainian Bohdan Bondarenko's display of steely gamesmanship paid off handsomely as he dominated the men's high jump at the World Athletics Championships on Thursday.
Bondarenko confirmed his staggering seasonal form with a well-timed path to gold ahead of Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim, who claimed silver at 2.38m on countback from Canada's Derek Drouin.
In a competition filled with high drama in front of an almost-capacity crowd at the Luzhniki Stadium on the coolest evening of the worlds, the jumpers delivered a great spectacle of high quality that ended with a world record bid.
"I was fighting with the bar, not with my rivals," Bondarenko said, explaining he had been partly forced into what he called "adventurism" by a foot injury that prevented him from jumping as much as he might have liked in the competition.
"I knew I had to jump high and I did it. I'm sure I'm capable of setting the new world record sooner or later and I hope it will be pretty soon."
Russia's European champion Aleksandr Shustov opened up by sailing over 2.29m along with Zhang Guowei of China.
Drouin was first over 2.32m, but Shustov and Barshim failed at their first attempts.
The local favorite was Russia's Olympic champion, Ivan Ukhov, who sailed over with the vociferous support behind him.
Ukhov was joined by Olympic silver medalist Eric Kynard of the US and Barshim and Donald Thomas of the Bahamas at the second time of asking, and Shustov at the third.
Sporting one red and one yellow shoe, the Ukrainian came back in 2.35m and cleared it easily to up the pressure on his opponents.
And they lapped it up, Barshim and then Ukhov going clear to roars from the crowd. Shustov was left prone on the floor after failing three times at 2.35m.
Drouin was the first clear at 2.38m, followed by Barshim, but it proved to be too high for Ukhov, one of whose previous claims to fame was a huge YouTube hit of him performing drunk in a competition.
Bondarenko daringly skipped 2.38m, and watched as Drouin then failed at 2.41m to leave the latter with bronze in a new national record.
A large Ukrainian contingent in the crowd was on its feet after Bondarenko cleared 2.41m to put himself in pole.
The bar was raised to 2.44m, just 1cm short of Cuban Javier Sotomayor's world record, for Barshim and Bondarenko in the game for gold.
Barshim went close with his two attempts but came up short, assuring Bondarenko of topping the podium.
(China Daily 08/17/2013 page16)