If you remember last indoor season, female high jumpers weren’t able to overcome the two-meter mark before a major. The same happened in the year of 2001. That winter, Sydney Olympic Games bronze medallist and European Indoor Champion Kajsa Bergqvist of Sweden came to WIC in Lisbon cleared 1.99m for the World Lead in Stockholm on February 15. Then, to March 9, she competed in Lisbon Atlantic Pavillion, and went over two meters for her first global title in athletics.
Things shouldn’t be repeated surely but sometimes coincidences are too obtrusive. Incredible talented young US jumper Vashti Cunningham received last IAAF permission to perform in Portland after her unexpected victory at National Trials with 199 World Lead and World junior record.
“I’m looking forward to see her jumps live. I was watching her performance at U.S. Indoors in YouTube and I was really impressed,” multi-time World and European champion in women High Jump Kajsa Bergqvist said. “Her technique is absolutely perfect for an 18-year-old jumper. I would not like to rust the things but, maybe, she is (a possible) 2.10m high jumper in the future.”
Handing out such high credits to Cunningham, Bergqvist is sure that it’ll not be easy to young American to go through her first global event. “Definitely, such kind of competitions call for some experience, but sometimes rules don’t work, especially if you are lit up. Portland 2016 already has proven that boldness is one of the biggest youth’s advantages. Look, how 19-year-old German triple jumper (Max Hess) has been competing here. He was so uninhibited and focused in the same time. It looked like he didn’t feel any pressure and had no respects. Theta is brilliant way to get the medal,” Kajsa noted.
In any case, Cunningham’s rivals with more experience such as Ruth Beitia and Kamila Licwinko will do all possible things to turn Vashti’s unclouded way to glory into the thorny path, particularly in Portland.
Reigning European High Jump champion Beitia, who will turn 37 on April 1, became the oldest ever medallist in this event when she got bronze medal in Sopot 2014. There are no doubts that most appearances female World Indoors’ high jumper (Portland is the eighth WIC for Ruth) aims to renew this statistical page as well staying still confident enough after 1.98m clearance this winter.
“I appreciate Ruth’s longevity in the field. Her patience and grit should be rewarded one day. I wish she’ll win here,” expressed her hopes Kajsa Bergqvist.
On other hand, defending World Indoor champion Kamila Lićwinko is not going to part with her title. Poland’s high jumper, who will turn 30 two days after her Portland final, carried off her season best to 1.97m in Łódź on February 5. Despite some field’s leaders skip the current season because of different reasons, Poland’s jumper gets ready to uncompromising fight.
“I do not think the lack of some leaders will affect the results’ level significantly. The competition promises to be very tight and I wouldn’t like to rule out any of my rivals. Title’s defence will be a huge success for me, but I always appreciate every medal,” said Lićwinko.