DAEGU, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — Most haven’t expected Zhang Guowei of China to sneak into the men’s high jump final at the Daegu world athletics championships, but the 20-year-old made it with a personal best leap of 2.31 meters. The question now is — Will he match or even lift his personal best in the final on Thursday?
The young Chinese talent put on a very impressive form during Tuesday’s qualification. After clearing 2.16m, 2.21m and 2.25m, Zhang began to challenge his personal best of 2.28m which he had leaped in Shanghai in February this year. He made it in the second attempt along with the other 17 jumpers.
Then the bar moved up to 2.31m, a height which Zhang had never scaled in the competitions before Daegu. He failed in the first two attempts and faced elimination.
But in the third and final attempt, he soared over the bar and finished fifth in the qualification. It also meant a place in the final for Zhang.
Apart from Zhang, 12 jumpers also entered the final and more than 10 of them scaled 2.31m in the qualifying round.
In face of the world’s top jumpers from Russia and the United States, Zhang is a very unlikely candidate for a medal in Thursday’s final. The toughest challenge for him in the final can be an all-out effort to match or lift his personal best.
The focus will fall on just a small handful of those, primarily and in no particular order — Jesse Williams, the World leader at 2.37m, who is aiming to become the first champion from the U.S. in 20 years; Russians Aleksey Dmitrik and Aleksandr Shustov, both 2.36m men this year; their compatriot Ivan Ukhov; and Ukraine’s Dymtro Dem’yanyuk, who scaled 2.35m to take the European Team Championships title in mid-June.
In addition, keep an eye on Qatari Mutaz Essa Barshim (2.35m), the World junior champion who’ll have certainly been inspired by the youth brigade bringing home gold.
These jumpers had shared the Diamond League circuit wins. Williams won in Doha and finished third in Prefontaine, where he jumped the same height as first and second.
More recently, Ukhov won in Stockholm with a 2.34m clearance, beating Williams (2.32m) and Barshim and Shustov (both at 2.30m).
On heights cleared alone, Thursday’s battle for the gold should be between Williams, Dmitrik and Shustov, evoking memories of the era when the U.S. and Soviet Union battled for supremacy with jumpers such as Valeriy Brumel and John Thomas.
Though it is really unpredictable that who will win in Thursday’s final, yet it is quite certain that the final will be very intensely contended given the very tough qualifying round.