Patterson takes high jump gold« Back
Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh had one last attempt at 2.04m in the women’s high jump final on Tuesday night at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22. If she cleared it, she would be in the gold position. If not, Australia’s Eleanor Patterson would be crowned world champion.
Mahuchikh began her approach. She leaped off her leg, cleared the bar, but clipped it with her feet on the way down. She lay on the mat, with her hands on her face, as the crowd released a collective groan.
At the same time, Patterson was tying her shoes, with the slightest smile on her face. The gold medal was hers.
She won the title by clearing 2.02m on her first attempt, setting a personal best. Her mark also equalled the Oceanian record set last year by fellow Australian Nicola Olyslagers. Mahuchikh cleared the same height but settled for silver, after clearing the mark on her second attempt. Italy’s Elena Vallortigara earned bronze with a season’s best of 2.00m.
“I knew I could bring a big performance,” said Patterson. “I have not competed much, but to come here tonight, seeing all these phenomenal athletes doing so well, I am just so humbled. I just could not believe I am the champion.”
By the time the bar was raised to 1.98m, only eight women remained. Kazakhstan’s Nadezhda Dubovitskaya and Estonia’s Karmen Bruus struggled on all their attempts and were eliminated, although Bruus did tie the world U18 best of 1.96m. Mahuchikh and Iryna Gerashchenko cleared the bar with ease, as did Vallortigara. Olyslagers failed to clear the mark, but her compatriot Patterson did. Uzbekistan’s Safina Sadullayeva gambled, opting to skip the height after failing her first attempt.
It didn’t quite work out. Sadullayeva brought down the bar on her two attempts at 2.00m. Vallortigara cleared the bar on her first attempt, the Italian continuing to hold the lead. Patterson and Mahuchikh cleared it their second attempts Moments later, Gerashchenko cleared it as well, setting a personal best.
Patterson cleared 2.02m as the crowd unleashed a roar. She sprang up, the joy exuding through her whole body, and hopped off the mat. Mahuchikh cleared next. Gerashchenko failed to clear, as did Vallortigara, but the Italian was awarded bronze on countback.
Both Patterson and Mahuchikh failed all three attempts at 2.04m.
Mahuchikh and Gerashchenko received the loudest welcome when they were introduced to the Hayward Field crowd. There were a few Ukrainian flags being waved around the southern side of the stadium, some by fans from Belarus, enduring the 32C heat. They sat in the sun, a pair of binoculars among them, cheering on all the high jumpers.
One of the Belarusian supporters, Aleksey, made the trip from Spokane, Washington, where he currently lives. He and his friends know Mahuchikh and Gerashchenko. He didn't seem to mind the sun too much.
“This is the worst part of it, but nothing can ruin this for us,” he said.
He said the current ban against Russians and Belarusians was well-deserved, but that the people of Belarus are against the war happening in Ukraine. Due to the ban, he and his friends decided to attend the World Championships in order to support the Ukrainian team. He says the athletes of the countries are close, and that they stick together whenever traveling to international meets.
“For athletes, it’s really hard when your country is at war,” he said. “They need to enjoy this competition so we’re doing whatever we can to support them. Just as a human, you want to support them.”
Elias Esquivel for World Athletics