Bohdan Bondarenko and Mutaz Barshim justified the pre-meet optimism and spotlight as they lit up the New York Diamond League in arguably the best High jump competition in history.
Both athletes cleared 2.42meters, the first time two athletes have ever done so in one meet, to become the joint second highest jumpers ever and in turn break the Diamond League record, all-comers record and set their respective continental bests.
In attempt to make their days even better both made world record efforts at the height of 2.46m, although they were close, Barshim in particular with his second attempt, it was not to be, meaning they had to settle for personal bests with Bondarenko taking victory in the competition on count back.
One of the most interesting elements of the pairs dual, and the competition as a whole, was the varying tactics chosen by the jumpers; while Barshim only passed once, after a first time failure at 2.44, Bondarenko only really became involved at 2.40m. Before that height he’d only jumped twice, before coming to the fore with a second time clearance, in total the Ukrainian leapt on only eight occasions compared to Barshim’s 14 jumps.
He was not his country’s only hope in the competition either as compatriot Andriy Protsenko produced a breakout performance to clear 2.35m for a new personal best.
Talking after the competition about his performance and breaking records, Bondarenko was in good spirits and understandably delighted, although he re–iterated the view that a new world record in the event is being talked about a bit too much: “You know it’s a new world record, it’s not easy to get, every week I am being asked ‘Bohdan when are you going to do it? I don’t know!”
Unsurprisingly, Barshim was equally as happy with his mark, he said: “I had no idea today would go as well as it did. I knew going in that it was going to be a really strong field, but I didn’t know that we would push each other to perform this well. Near the end I started to feel a little tired, but regardless I kept pushing and my competitors are what kept me going.”
He added: “High jump is in its golden days now, so it’s better that everyone is watching high jump and cheering for the athletes…this is the kind of competition we need to make the world record go even further.
“It’s the competition that pushes us further, we don’t look at heights, we just want to win and that is what pushes us further.”
Asked if it the day’s competition had been the greatest in history the Qatari athlete responded: “I don’t think so, I know so. It’s because it’s never been like this before (two jumpers going over 2.40m).”
The pair were not the only field stars to shine either as Brazilian Fabiana Murer and German Linda Stahl posted world leading performances; vaulting to 4.80m and throwing 67.32 in the javelin, respectively.
Not to be outdone, shot put’s undisputed Queen Valerie Adams made it 50 wins on the trot with a fifth round throw of 19.68m. Although she still only ranks 21st in the world all-time rankings, few can argue that her long-term dominance more than makes up for that.
Despite the field events uncharacteristically taking the brunt of the viewer’s attention on this occasion, there were a number of high quality performances on the track; none more so than in the men’s 200m where Jamaican Warren Weir took victory in a world leading time of 19.82, his third fastest time ever despite a -0.2 headwind.
Weir’s world lead was replicated by Javier Culson in the men’s 400 metre hurdles, after an electric first 200m helped him win in 48.03 seconds.
Another of the day’s victors was David Rudisha in the men’s 800m as he led from start to finish, winning in 1.44.63, producing a final 100m that indicates his stamina has improved since the Prefontaine classic a fortnight ago, following mileage training at his base in Germany.
The world record holder, who will be hoping to get back to somewhere near his sensational form of 2012, before he heads to the Commonwealth Games next month, will next race at the Glasgow Diamond League before running in Monaco a week later and then returning to the Scottish city for the games.
Post-race Rudisha said: “That run was great, it will give me confidence…In a few weeks when I have trained well I will hopefully run faster and better!”
The other favourites to live up to the pre-race faith were La Shawn Merrit, Abeba Aragawi and breakthrough star Tori Bowie, who made it three out of three victories since she decided to switch from the long jump runway to the track.
In the event where nobody seems to be able to secure the number one tag for long, Queen Harrison became the second different US winner in the 100m hurdles this year winning in 12.62 seconds. She narrowly edged out compatriot Dawn Harper who finished second in 12.63, her second near miss in two weeks.
The day’s biggest shock came as Yohan Blake was comfortably beaten in the men’s 100m by relay teammate Nesta Carter. After a terrible start out of the blocks, where he almost fell over, Blake recovered well running 10.21 seconds, with Carter winning in 10.09 whilst running into a -1.9 headwind.
Barshim and Diamond League competition will now take a backseat for the rest of the month as the focus turns towards respective national championships and the European Team Championships.
When it returns in July, Barshim and some of his rivals will be hoping to perform equally well at the series’ halfway meet in Lausanne on July 3rd.