Women's High Jump and Pole Vault Previews
After her stunning world-leading 2.04 in Lausannewhich stands atop her three other 2.00 jumps this yearthe clear favourite is Sweden's Kajsa Bergqvist, the bronze medallist in both Sydney and Edmonton.
Kajsa Bergqvist (Foto: Chai)This year's Russian champion, 20-year-old Marina Kuptsova, hasn't maintained quite the same consistently high level she demonstrated during the past indoor season which produced a European indoor title. However, with a 1.99 outdoor best, she is clearly in the fight for one of the medals.
Kuptsova will be joined by another Russian, Viktoriya Seryogina, who has a best of 2.00 plus four other competitions at 1.97 and better.
The third Russian jumper is Olga Kaliturina at 1.95, whose selection seems primarily based on her second place at the national championships. With her addition to the roster, Russia displays an embarrassment of riches by leaving at home a 1.98 jumper (Yuliya Lyakhova) and another at 1.97 (Yelena Sivushenko).
Blanka Vlaić moved into the elite realm at 1.96 which won her second world junior title in Kingston recently, and the 18-year-old Croatianwho at 1.91m is one of the tallest jumpers currently activemay be ready for even higher heights.
At the age of 30, Ukrainian champion Irina Mikhalchenko joined the two-metre club this year with a 2.00 leap at home in Kiev in late May. Her remaining performances are on a slightly lower level, topping at 1.96, but she did win the European Cup with 1.95 and could conceivably be in the medal chase.
After these six competitors, things drop off quickly. The remaining name eliciting attention is Oana Pantelimon, who is currently languishing at 1.93 this season. The Romanian went to Sydney without significant credentials and came away with a share of the Olympic bronze medal while raising her PB from 1.94 to 1.99. Will she produce a similar performance in Munich?
The favourite in the pole vault is unquestionably Svetlana Feofanova, the current world outdoor leader at a European-record 4.78. After taking the silver medal in Edmonton last year, the 22-year-old Russian continually made headlines during the indoor season by setting five world records in a single month.
However, Feofanova does not bring a blemish-free record to Munich, as her uncharacteristically poor 4.42 in Gdansk one week before the Championships placed her third behind winner Monika Pyrek of Poland. .Still, she has a resume the rest of the field would long to possess.
Appearing recently as a challenger to Feofanova is Germany's Annika Becker, whose (then) European-record 4.77 in winning the national championships in July came at the climax of an incredible four-PB afternoon.
Before Becker's breakthrough, German vaulting had been all but controlled by Yvonne Buschbaum since last year, and although the 22-year-old lags behind Feofanova and Becker this year at 4.64, she can nonetheless be expected to be part of the short list nearing the end of the Munich final. After all, it was Buschbaum who pushed Feofanova all the way up to a world record in the Russian's European indoor win.
Although this year's Russian champion Yelena Isinbayeva has a 4.60 best, she has only two other jumps at 4.50 or higher and has not appeared in any significant international competitions.
With an outdoor best of 4.57 this season, Monika Pyrek, who issued Feofanova her only defeat of the year, hasn't quite returned to the height which brought her a bronze medal in the European Indoor Championships. However, the Polish record holder had a solid July with four competitions at 4.50 or better and appears to be a reasonable candidate for a medal.
These five clearly outshadow the rest of the field. The third German vaulter, Caroline Hingst, equaled her PB of 4.50 in placing third at the nationals, but doesn't appear quite ready for the 4.60 level which likely will be required for a medal under optimal conditions. The same assessment could be made for the Russian championships runner-up, Yelena Belyakova, who also has a 4.50 PB but a yearly best of 4.45.
The French pair of Marie Poissonnier and Vanessa Boslak set national records of 4.46 in their one-two finish at their national championships, but can they find the inspiration to add another ten centimeters?