High jumper Vlasic makes triumphant leap back
Blanka Vlasic was cold and tired and her left ankle was sore, but the two-time world champion high jumper was feeling fine after winning her first competition after sitting out 16 months with an injury.
- Published: 27/05/2013 at 02:49 AM
- Newspaper section: news
Blanka Vlasic of Croatia reacts after a succesful attempt in the High Jump during the Adidas Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island on May 25, 2013 in New York City. Vlasic was cold and tired and her left ankle was sore, but the two-time world champion high jumper was feeling fine after winning her first competition after sitting out 16 months with an injury.
"I'm not a phantom," she said. "I'm here and I'm back."
Vlasic cleared each of her first six jumps in cold and rainy conditions to win Saturday at the Diamond League athletics meeting in New York, winning with a meet record 1.94-meter clearance.
"This is just a dream come true, to come back and win the competition under these circumstances," she said.
"I had some good jumps. I need to be patient to get the height for better jumps. I'm just happy I'm not home watching on TV any more."
The 29-year-old Croatian missed last year's Olympics after a broken bone in her left ankle stuck in her Achilles tendon. An infection followed surgery and the 2008 Olympic and 2011 world runner-up is only now back to competitive form.
"I can't explain to you how scared I was before this competition," Vlasic said. "I didn't know if I was ready or not. I was still feeling a lot of pain."
Running on a wet surface in cold and windy conditions added to the pressure on a day when Vlasic's emotions were already tense.
"It took me a lot of focus to stay calm and composed with the rain and the cold," Vlasic said. "It was very difficult under the circumstances.
"I thought, 'What I can't do, God will help me.' I had a lot of help."
London Olympic runner-up Brigitta Barrett of the United States missed once before clearing 1.88 and 1.91 and Sweden's Emma Green Tregaro faltered at 1.91 and neither cleared 1.94, which Vlasic did on her first attempt to win.
She failed on three attempts at 1.97 but gladly waited to challenge world season leader Anna Chicherova for another day, especially with the world championships looming in August at Moscow.
"At the end I didn't have the power to take off on the right leg," Vlasic said. "I needed to just move all the time or my leg would stiffen. I still feel a lot of pain. I don't care. I'm very happy and I know I will recover.
"That's why you need to wait until you can handle the pressure of a lot of jumps."
For Vlasic, the long wait is finally over.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
- Position: News agency