Preview: women's high jump – IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018

Featured Preview: women's high jump – IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018

Is there a bigger favourite for gold at these championships than Mariya Lasitskene in the women's high jump? Considering the 25-year-old's staggering momentum, along with conventional wisdom, that answer is clearly 'no'.

On the march to regain the world indoor crown she won in 2014, Lasitskene arrives in Birmingham riding a 37-meeting unbeaten streak, one of the longest in athletics, dating back to 1 July 2016. Her most recent victory came last Sunday in Glasgow where she clinched the World Indoor Tour title at 1.95m, a somewhat modest height by her standards, yet one which more often than not she alone has topped in most of her competitions.

Expectations will be high that she'll sail considerably higher on Thursday's opening night straight final. Chances are good that she'll deliver.

Lasitskene is the world leader at 2.04m --an indoor lifetime best-- and has produced the best seven jumps of the season in her ten competitions, six of those at 2.00m or better. This season, nobody comes remotely close.

Behind her, the picture is far less predictable. Defending champion Vashti Cunningham, who turned 20 just last month, has competed only twice this indoor season, topping 1.96m in New York on 3 February and 1.97m in Albuquerque on 18 February to win the US title, moving even with Ukraine's Yuliya Levchenko as the current world number two.

Levchenko, the European indoor bronze medallist and the world outdoor silver medallist, has competed far more in 2018, consistently at the 1.95-1.97m level. This year, that could be enough to land the 20-year-old on the podium.

Levern Spencer of St. Lucia, a regular fixture in most global finals over the past half dozen years, looks to be in striking distance of a long-elusive medal, along with Bulgaria's Mirela Demireva, the 2016 Olympic and European silver medallist. Both have topped 1.95m in 2018.

Leave a comment