The pre-event publicity mainly centred around the fact that the men’s high jump had one of the classier fields ever assembled outside of a major global championship and it lived up to the hype as Qatar’s world indoor champion Mutaz Essa Barshim soared over an Asian record of 2.41m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome on Thursday (5).
Into the bargain, it was also a meeting record and equalled the IAAF Diamond League record shared by Russia’s Ivan Ukhov and Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko.
However, while Barshim was the star of the show for his soaring clearance over his winning height, with about five centimetres of daylight between his torso and the bar and even clear air between his heels and the apparatus, the competition will also be remembered for the six close failures at 2.43m, three apiece from Barshim and world champion Bondarenko.
After Bondarenko and Barshim both jumped 2.34m with their first attempts – the height which saw the last remaining other jumpers eliminated – the personable and pencil-thin Qatari flew over 2.37m, which prompted Bondarenko to pass.
The mind games continued at the next height as both men decided to pass 2.39m.