These observations are slightly limited by the fact that the BBC seemed to spend more time chatting for twenty minutes about Usain Bolt before his race and another twenty afterwards so I couldn’t always keep up to date with the way the competitions progressed.
The me’s high jump was enlivened by gold medallist Ukhov losing his vest but that was the most trouble he found in a competition he dominated. Robbie Grabarz won his bronze rather anticlimactically when a queue of jumpers failed at the bronze height after he had already gone out. The event has been a bit stagnant for years with no-one pushing the 2.40m barrier. Ukhov may get close.
The women’s high jump has been one of the outstanding field events for most of the past decade. It was a shame that Blanka Vlasic’s injury denied her the chance to claim the Olympic title she deserves but perhaps she can do a Stefka Kostadinova and win it in her thirties in Rio. In her absence there was another deserving winner in Anna Chicherova who has been so consistent over recent years as well.
Renaud Lavillenie has been the best pole vaulter for a while so it was no surprise to see him win. Elena Isinbaeva was going for a historic third gold medal in the vault but it seemed her lack of competitions caught up with her and she couldn’t respond when she needed to. Holly Bleasdale seemed to find the pressure a little too much to cope with and underperformed. She is capable of big heights but has now struggled in a championship again. She needs to show she can produce the goods on the big stage.
The horizontal jumps were a disappointment. At the moment the standards are pretty poor. Some of this is down to injuries to the top athletes in 2012 but it would be nice to see those left pushing the standard a bit higher. Greg Rutherford deserves praise for his victory in the long jump. He jumped nearly up to his best, but it has to be noted that it was the shortest winning distance since 1976.
The triple jump was overshadowed in Britain by the nonsense surrounding Phillips Idowu. Neither he nor the BOA emerged with much credit from his injury problems but I believe that he should have been allowed to prepare in his own way without the distractions of supplying medical records etc. It was clear leading up to the Games that he wasn’t going to be fully fit but if he wanted to keep his precise situation to himself that is his right. It gives your opponents a boost if they know exactly how much difficulty you are in. I thought that he actually jumped reasonably well given the circumstances and was unlucky to miss out on the final.
Of all the horizontal jumps the women’s long jump is the one that is looking on the up again. this year there have been several seven metre plus jumpers after many years where that barrier has been broken rarely. The event also appears to have a new dominant force in Brittney Reese who at her best is way ahead of the rest. Her technique is pretty rough and ready. She produces lots of no jumps but when she gets it right can jump a long way.
The women’s triple jump is very average at the moment with nobody jumping over 15 metres in the last two seasons. It would have been nice to see Yamille Aldama get a medal for Britain after such a long wait to compete for the country in which she’s lived for many years. Perhaps she just wanted it too much on the day and she couldn’t live up to her expectations.
In the throws Robert Harting is becoming a very consistent championship performer in the discus. He seems to be able to produce something when it is needed. Lawrence Okoye sets himself high standards but at the moment is just lacking consistency. He is slowly improving in championships, getting one stage further in each competition, and if he sticks with it should be close to medals in the future.
The one black mark on the throws was the disqualification of Ostapchuk in the women’s shot after she won. It isn’t the first time that a champion thrower from Belarus has been disqualified and when I heard that she was suddenly throwing very well leading up to the championships I did wonder. It wasn’t a huge surprise to me then when she did get disqualified. I read one suggestion that Valerie Adams ought to be presented with her gold medal at the Paralympics in the stadium in front of a big crowd and I think that would be a good idea.
The women’s hammer saw an unfortunate incident when the Chinese athlete in bronze medal position lost the medal after the competition when Betty Heidler had an earlier throw remeasured which took her into third. This was unsatisfactory firstly because of the wrong measurement in the first place and also because the Chinese thrower had no chance of regaining the medal because the event was over when the remeasurement was made.
It was nice to see Trinidad winning a gold in the javelin of all events. Throws can tend to be dominated by Europeans and Americans so a new country getting involved is good for everyone.
At just 24 Ashton Eaton appears to have the world at his feet in the decathlon. He has broken the world record this year and won the Olympic title. He could go on to dominate the event for years. It is an event that an athlete can stay at the top of for many years.
Finally, to the heptathlon. It was a surprise just how easily Jessica Ennis won this. From the moment she crossed the line after that brilliant hurdles nobody was likely to touch her. her big rivals from recent championships appeared to have lost form. Dobrinska, understandably, after personal circumstances. Chernova was well below her form of last year all the way along. The one event that Ennis has lost form in is the one that was her best. In the high jump she can jump 1.95 but hasn’t been near that in a heptathlon for quite a while. This is quite a mystery. I can only think that she has been working so hard on improving her other events that she has lost her way in the high jump. People were getting worried when Skujyte took the lead after the shot but she is always great at that and I never thought she would be a threat. The only danger to Jess on day two was Ennis herself. As soon as she got a decent mark in the long jump that was the competition over and the, javelin and 800m were demonstration events. An outstanding effort under the pressure of leading off the team on the first morning and being the figurehead of women’s athletics in Britain.