The world’s best high jumpers will challenge the world record when they compete at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Friday July 24. Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko of the Ukraine headline a strong field, which also includes Great Britain & Northern Ireland’s Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz, American Erik Kynard, and Italian Marco Fassinotti.
The iconic event in the former Olympic Stadium will welcome the world’s only two-day IAAF Diamond League meeting on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 July, with the Sainsbury’s IPC Athletics Grand Prix Final taking place on Sunday July 26, as part of National Paralympic Day.
Javier Sotomayor’s world record of 2.45m has stood since 1993, but has come under serious threat in recent years as Barshim and Bondarenko have had a series of thrilling clashes. Barshim has beaten Bondarenko ten times compared to eight victories for the Ukrainian and both athletes cleared 2.38m when they last competed on British soil at the 2014 Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix. Both men also cleared 2.29m in this stadium at the 2012 Olympic Games.
World indoor champion Barshim, who is second on the all-time list with a personal best of 2.43m, has cleared 2.40m or higher on no less than eight occasions while world and European outdoor champion Bondarenko, third all-time with a best of 2.42m, has scaled 2.40m a total of seven times. Both athletes are now confident that the world record could fall in London.
Barshim said: “It was amazing to compete in London at the Olympics in 2012. To get a bronze medal made it even more special so I can’t wait to go back and compete there again at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games.
My main focus is to improve myself and with that, the record will fall, and the support from the crowd will play a big role in that.”
Bondarenko said: “Sotomayor’s world record is really strong but we’re getting closer to it and the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games could be the time when it happens, which would be really special. It’s great to be up against someone like Barshim because we push each other further in every competition and it makes the event very exciting for the fans, but there will be a lot of good athletes in London so I will have to be at my very best.”
Grabarz has recently returned from a long injury layoff and will hope to recapture his form from 2012 when he set a personal best of 2.37m and took the bronze medal at the London Olympics.
The 27-year-old said: “I always look forward to jumping in the UK but especially London because the stadium has such a special feel to it. I hope to have secured my place on the plane to Beijing by then and if so the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games would be a great test before those World Championships.”