Sweden's Stefan Holm, the reigning Olympic high jump champion, won his 11th national indoor title on Sunday in Malmö by jumping 2.37m. The mark ties him with Russian André Silnov for this year’s second best in the world. This is the 21st national high jump title of Holm’s illustrious career.
Linus Thörnblad played second-fiddle to Holm but appeared to find his form, heading into the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia in two weeks. He finished second with a best of 2.35m.
Thörnblad was coming off Thursday’s subpar performance at GE Galan, where he managed only a fifth place finish with a jump of 2.26m—12cm below his personal best.
After 13 years in the spotlight, Holm is bidding farewell to the sport at age 31. His career includes 10 consecutive outdoor and eight consecutive indoor seasons, in which he has jumped no less than 2.30m. Holm is now enjoying perhaps his best season ever, winning his fourth straight competition—the sixth in seven attempts.
Holm's lowest jump this season occurred in Dresden, Germany where he jumped 2.30m - a mark which netted him a victory.
He has now cleared 2.30m 120 times in his career— increasing by one the Swedish record he set on Thursday in Stockholm. Former world record holder Patrik Sjöberg, the current Swedish indoor and outdoor national record holder, had previously achieved this record (118).
The Holm-Thörnblad rivalry netted the duo a one-two finish at last year's European Indoor Championships and brought a much-anticipated clash to the sell-out crowd huddled in the Malmö Athleticum facility. This matchup followed the previous year's national championships in Göteborg in which both athletes cleared world-leading 2.38m, with Holm the victor on countback.
This year's event had all the markings of a championship meet. Both athletes brimmed with confidence, neither showing signs of acquiescing under pressure.
Holm had a fantastic series, with first-attempt clearances at all of his heights from 2.17m to 2.35m—or seven straight jumps. Holm's last competition of a similar nature—where he had been foul-free through 2.35m—was at the 2004 World Indoor Championships in Budapest, Hungary. He won with 2.35m.
Holm's first failure of the evening came when he attempted to maneuver a height 2.37m above the ground—a height he had cleared just four other times in his career.
According to his website scholm.com, he hit the bar a little too hard with his hamstring, though the first attempt itself was not a bad one technically. Holm’s first miss of the competition, however, gave Thörnblad his first opportunity to take the lead.
Thörnblad had a very close first attempt at 2.37m, but was unable to snatch the lead from Holm. On his second attempt, Holm hit the bar but watched it remain on the uprights for a clearance.
Sensing that Holm was on his way to a superb day, Thörnblad fouled his second of three attempts. He settled for saving his last attempt for 2.39m. This mark, incidentally, would have bettered Russian Yaroslav Rybakov's world lead by one centimeter.
Holm stated that he wasn't particularly interested in making attempts at 2.39m. Still, he was forced to make an effort there as Thörnblad—who missed his one reserve try there—could have taken the lead. This would have forced Holm either to clear this height or take attempts at his personal best of 2.40m.
Holm, jumping first, had his poorest jump of the day with his first attempt. He became a lock for the gold medal, however, when Thörnblad missed his try.
The Kils AIK star out of Karlstad had the bar raised to 2.41m—a height he has never before cleared.
The three-time world indoor gold medalist (2001, 2003, 2004) was unable to manage a successful navigation at this level, though he had the height up to the bar on both attempts.
Holm called this one of his better competition days. He hopes the feeling he had in Malmö carries over to Weinheim on Wednesday, and against his Russian rivals in Valencia the following week.
Holm, speaking to tabloid newspaper Expressen, stated that the field in Valencia would be tough.
"Very many have the capacity to jump 2.35m," he said. "There are many who can either disappear in the qualification round, or just as well go to the final."
"Someone is going to jump 2.40m," he prognosticated.
Thörnblad has now cleared 2.30m in five of his seven competitions this season, and moved to sole possession of fifth in the world. He also had two victories and three runner-up indoor finishes this year.
Swedish National Indoor Championships
Malmö, Sunday 2008-February-24
Men's High Jump Results:
M Höjdhopp Final söndag
|1||Stefan Holm||76||Kils AIK||2,37|| |
|2||Linus Thörnblad||85||Malmö AI||2,35|| |
|3||Mehdi Alkhatib||87||SoIK Hellas||2,15|| |
|4||Christian Norstedt||83||Råby-Rekarne FI||2,11|| |
|5||Martin Eriksson||83||Örgryte IS||2,09|| |
|6||Richard Huldén||86||IF Göta||2,01|| |
|7||Daniel Lennartsson||88||IFK Växjö||1,97|| |
|7||Oskar Rybo||89||IF Kville||1,97|| |
|9||Markus Nilsson||89||Malmö AI||1,97|| |
|9||Christoffer Holmström||88||FI Kalmarsund||1,97|| |
|11||Mattias Green||88||IFK Trelleborg||1,97|| |
|12||Joel Thorén||87||Hässelby SK||1,97|| |
Full results here
World's top-10 indoor high jumpers 2008:
2,38m Yaroslav Rybakov RUS
2,37m Andrey Silnov RUS
2,37m Stefan Holm SWE
2,36m Ivan Ukhov RUS
2,36m Andrey Tereshin RUS
2,35m Linus Thörnblad SWE
2,33m Aleksey Dmitrik RUS
2,32m Jesse Williams USA
2,32m Kyriakos Ioannou CYP
2,30m Eike Onnen GER