THE FINAL PROVIDED both drama and expert execution. Despite the absence of Americans in the final — including the shocking loss of Vashti Cunningham, who topped out at 6-1¼ (1.86) in qualifying — the capacity crowd was fully engaged in what proved to be a stirring battle.
As the event got underway Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh, the yearly world leader at 6-8 (2.03), appeared to have the best chance for the gold.
Eight of the field of 12 remained in the competition when the bar went up to 6-6 (1.98), 6 of them with perfect records. Only Mahuchikh and Italy’s Elena Vallortigara made it on first try, sharing the lead.
The surprising Vallortigara took the lead at 6-6¾ (2.00), keeping her card clean with yet another first-attempt clearance. Mahuchikh, uncharacteristically, and her Ukrainian teammate Iryna Herashchenko, along with Australia’s Eleanor Patterson, cleared on second attempts.
A critical turning point took place when the bar moved up to 6-7½ (2.02). First the Italian, with her heretofore clean card, failed on all of her three attempts, as did Herashchenko. And Mahuchikh needed two attempts to clear the new bar.
Patterson, who had three earlier misses at lower heights scattered on her card, set a new NR when she was the sole remaining athlete to make a first-attempt clearance at the new height. Just like that, she had the gold medal position.
With the bar then raised to a year-leading 6-8¼ (2.04) only Mahuchikh and Patterson were left. Neither could manage a make, but Mahuchikh was extremely close to clearing on her third jump, just nicking the bar off with her calf. The gold went to Patterson — the first-ever WC women’s high jump medal of any color for Australia. The silver went to Mahuchikh with the bronze to Vallortigara.
Mahuchikh, the repeat runner-up, was graceful in defeat. “Certainly, I’m satisfied with this medal, even if it’s a silver one,” she said. “I like our sport because you can never make correct predictions.
“I was ready to jump higher and to go one step higher compared to Doha. But something went wrong starting at 2m. Fortunately, I managed to stay focused and to do technically good second attempts at 2.00 [6-6¾] and 2.02 [6-7½]. It is just a pity that I could not clear 2.04 [6-8¼] as my jumps were going well.”
Said the 26-year-old Patterson, “I knew I could bring a big performance. It has not been a smooth season in either way as I have had a lot of injuries. I have not competed much but to come here tonight, seeing all these phenomenal athletes doing so well, I am just so humbled. I just could not believe I am the champion.”
WOMEN’S HIGH JUMP RESULTS
FINAL (July 19)
(temperature 66–72F/19–22C; humidity 78–67%)
1. Eleanor Patterson (Aus) 6-7½ (2.02) =NR;
2. Yaroslava Mahuchikh (Ukr) 6-7½ (2.02);
3. Elena Vallortigara (Ita) 6-6¾ (2.00);
4. Iryna Herashchenko (Ukr) 6-6¾ (2.00) PR;
=5. Nicola Olyslagers (Aus) 6-5 (1.96);
=5. Safina Sadullayeva (Uzb) 6-5 (1.96);
7. Karmen Bruus (Est) 6-5 (1.96) NR;
8. Nadezhda Dubovitskaya (Kaz) 6-5 (1.96);
9. Lamara Distin (Jam) 6-4 (1.93);
10. Daniela Stanciu (Rom) 6-4 (1.93);
11. Kimberly Williamson (Jam) 6-2¼ (1.89);
12. Lia Apostolovski (Slo) 6-2¼ (1.89).
(July 16; auto-qualifier 6-4¾/1.95)
Qualifiers: all qualifiers cleared 6-4/1.93 except Williamson, Distin & Apostolovski, who cleared 6-2¾/1.90;
Non-Qualifiers: [6-2¾/1.90]—Tatiána Goúsin (Gre), Marija Vuković (Mont), Maja Nilsson (Swe), Yuliya Levchenko (Ukr), Rachel McCoy (US);
[6-1¼/1.86]—Ella Junnila (Fin), Vashti Cunningham (US), Kristina Ovchinnikova (Kaz), Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch (Ger), Urtė Baikštytė (Lit), Sini Lällä (Fin), Heta Tuuri (Fin);
[5-11¼/1.81]—Rachel Glenn (US), Emily Borthwick (GB), Laura Zialor (GB);
[5-8¾/1.75]—Jiawen Lu (Chn), Jennifer Rodriguez (Col).