Men's High Jump and Pole Vault Previews
The high jump will most likely be won at a relatively low height, given that the highest performance this year by any competitor is Stefan Holm's 2.33, which he has accomplished twice.
Lars Börgeling (Foto: Chai)The Swede, who placed fourth in Sydney, also has the best claim to being the favorite, given his six competitions this season at 2.30 or better, four of them resulting in wins. No other jumper has compiled a comparable record.
Challenging Holm should be Andrey Chubsa of Belarus. The 19-year-old opened his international season relatively late in July, but was impressive in a five-day period, three times leaping over his pre-2002 PB and winning the Stockholm competition (against Holm) with his current career best of 2.32.
Holm's countryman and longtime rival Staffan Strandwith a pair of 2.30 performances this season-- is currently nursing a painful ankle condition and might not be in top form in Munich.
The top two placers in this year's Russian championships at 2.28--Yaroslav Rybakov, the silver medallist in Edmonton, and Pavel Fomenkohave had few high-performance competitions this year but could well be part of the chase for the medals.
A pair of European Cup winnersTomá Janků of the Czech Republic and French jumper Gregory Gabellaboth bring 2.30 jumps to Munich, as does Poland's Grzegorz Sposób.
No entrant has a higher PB than the 2.36 of reigning world champion Martin Buss of Germany at 2.36, but the Berliner comes to Munich with a season best of 2.25 and a meager 2.21 in his final competition. In short, he does not appear to be a significant factor. Of course, that is what was said about him last summer, just before he captured his world title . . .
Lars Börgeling is peaking at the right time
Germany's Lars Börgeling is certainly peaking at the right time, with a PB 5.85 in his final competition before Munich. The 23-year-old reigning European U23 champion has jumped 5.80 or better on four occasions this season, the same number logged by his countryman Tim Lobinger, who won the silver medal in Budapest four years ago and who leads all Europeans in 2002 with 5.90.
Together, these two Germans appear to be the front runners in the event. But vertical jumps are cruel in being unforgiving of any mistakes, and the winner may well be determined in large measure by a clean jumping record rather than a high height, especially if the Munich winds are challenging.
A third German vaulter, Richard Spiegelburg, has shown good form in the last weeks, as evidenced by a 5.70 in Leverkusen behind Börgeling. It was reason enough for him to receive a late nomination as a replacement for Danny Ecker, whose lingering shoulder problem forced him out of the competition.
This year's Russian champion, Vasiliy Gorshkov, should be in the thick of the battle should either Börgeling or Lobinger falter. The 25-year-old has jumped 5.70 or better in six competitions, including a PB performance of 5.80 in winning his national title.
A big question mark surrounds Edmonton silver medallist Alex Averbukh of Israel, whose sub-par season thus far (best of 5.70) may be ascribed to a lack of focus following the deaths of both his father and father-in-law in his native Siberia earlier in the season.
After jumping 5.75 to win the French title in July, Romain Mesnil has been plagued with a tender hamstring and will not be at full strength. And despite a 5.75 to take the European indoor silver medal in March, Patrik Kristiansson of Sweden carries only a 5.60 outdoor best.
Czech vaulter Adam Ptáček has a national record 5.80 to his credit this year, as well as a 5.76, but as both came on familiar turf in Prague, the 21-year-old has yet to demonstrate that he can produce high jumps on the road. The same might be said about his countryman, těpán Janáček, two of whose three jumps at 5.71 and higher (with a best of 5.76) were on Czech soil.
Of the remaining jumpers, Giuseppe Gibilisco of Italy stands out with repeated consistency in the range of 5.65 to 5.70. But will this be enough for a medal?