Fans will have to wait a little bit longer for the season’s first meeting between the world’s top women’s high jumpers following Blanka Vlasic’s late hour withdrawal from tomorrow night’s SamsungGalan in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Vlasic, who opened her season with a bang on Tuesday night clearing a world-leading 2.03m [6-8] in Rijeka, Croatia, will skip the meet largely as a precautionary measure due to a slight pain in the ankle on her take-off leg she injured earlier this year. Her withdrawal leaves Germany’s Ariane Friedrich as the overwhelming favorite in this annual sprint and jumps competition.
Friedrich, who has cleared 2.00m [6-6 ¾ ] twice this season, defeated Vlasic at the ÅF Golden League finale in Brussels last September, robbing the Croatian of a $500,000 chunk of the Golden League Jackpot.
At the moment, the only head-to-head clash expected between the pair prior to the European Indoor Championships in March will come in Karlsruhe, Germany, on 15-Feb.
The men’s field is led by Russian Yaroslav Rybakov, the Olympic bronze medallist, and Swede Linus Thörnblad, who is now looking to finally emerge as the top Swedish jumper following Stefan Holm’s retirement last year. Both men have cleared 2.30m [7-6 ½ ] thus far this season. Americans Andra Manson and Jamie Nieto are also in the field.
Russian Yevgeniy Lukyanenko and Tim Lobinger of Germany, both members of the elite six-meter [19-8 ¼ ] club outdoors, lead the field in the pole vault. Lukyanenko won the world indoor title in Valencia, Spain, last year, and later went on to strike Olympic silver. Local eyes will focus on national record holder Alhaji Jeng.
The meet also includes the first international start of the season for American David Oliver, the Olympic 110m hurdles silver medallist. Oliver opened his season last weekend at a low-key event in Gainesville, Fla., where he ran 7.13 in a preliminary in the rarely run 55m hurdles before a false start knocked him out of the final. Americans Joel Brown and Aubrey Herring and Allan Scott of Great Britain are also in the 60m hurdles line-up.
There’s also a solid field in the women’s long jump, led by Cuban Yargelis Savigne and American Brittney Reese.
Elsewhere, former Olympic decathlon champion Roman Sebrle will compete in a three-event competition and former heptathlete Carolina Kluft will contest the 60m.