Sunday, March 9, 2008
At last summer’s World Track & Field Championships in Osaka, pole vaulter Brad Walker from Mountlake Terrace remarked to members of the press after winning his first outdoor title, “First attempt clearances in a major championship are a huge thing, and it puts stress on the other competitors”.
Fast forward six months later to the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain, where the 2004 University of Washington graduate and defending world indoor champion fell victim to his own statement, as he vaulted an indoor personal best of 19-2 1/4, but settled for a second place finish behind Russia’s Evgeniy Lukyanenko (above, /photo by Paul Merca), who won with a height of 19-4 1/4.
Walker began the competition with a first attempt miss at 18-8 1/4, a height successfully navigated by five other competitors. After clearing on the second attempt, he was in sixth place, and had to pass two heights and re-enter at 19-2 1/4 in order to have a realistic shot of defending his world title.
Walker cleared an indoor personal best of 19-2 1/4 on his first attempt to take the lead from Australia’s Steve Hooker and 23-year old Evgeniy Lukyanenko, who came on the world scene with a breakthrough sixth-place performance in Osaka last year in a personal best of 19-0 3/4.
The young Russian fired back with a successful clearance of 19-2 1/4 on his second attempt, forcing Hooker to pass his remaining two attempts at that height.
With the bar raised to 19-4 /4, Hooker, jumping first in the order, missed. Lukyanenko refused to fold to the high stakes pressure of the moment and made it on his first attempt. Walker, jumping third in the order, was forced to pass to the next height of 19-6 1/4.
Both Walker and Lukyanenko missed all three attempts at 19-6 1/4, giving the Russian the world title.
Afterwards, Walker said, "Lukyanenko deserved to win the gold, he jumped 19-4 1/4. I'm satisfied with how I did, it was fine but it was frustrating".
NOTE: Some publications have Lukyanenko's first name spelled Yevgeniy. We've elected to spell it the way the IAAF results for Valencia are posted.
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