Samson Oni was only watching in the background, having bowed out early himself, as Robbie Grabarz soared over a world-leading 2.34m in Wuppertal but he rose out of the shadow and over an Olympic A qualifier of 2.31m to claim the domestic spotlight a week on in a thrilling high jump competition in Hustopece, Czech Republic, last night.

That represented an equal PB, the original set two years ago in neighbouring Slovakia, to earn a solid footing in the battle for places on the British team for London and take up the cause led by Grabarz as the high jumpers are striking back after their downfall from grace last October.

Oni rises over a last-gasp equal PB of 2.31 to land in Olympic qualification territory

Those two also figure as firm favourites to occupy the two places on offer for the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul come March as Tom Parsons is on the comeback trail from surgery and will most likely miss the indoor term while Martyn Bernard is knocking some rough edges off following injury problems of his own – shouldn’t be discounted though.

The 30-year-old Belgrave jumper didn’t so much suggest what was to come in the early stages as he needed a second attempt to get 2.24m out of the way but followed up with a first time clearance over 2.28m to set up nicely and come within striking distance of his main goal.

At the critical stage, 2.31m, he failed first time out but spurred on by a top quality company of four around still left in the competition, involving the likes of Aleksey Dmitrik and Ivan Ukhov, as well as a rousing atmosphere from the stands he rose equal to the barrier to steer clear into qualifying dreamland.

He even had a very good final effort at a would-be new lifetime mark of 2.33m later on but he will be more than happy to return home having taken the massive burden of the standard off his shoulders, placing an excellent third with some fine scalps under his belt like Ukhov himself and local favourite Jaroslav Baba on countback.

Further down the order were also Daevu bronze medallist Trevor Barry (BAH) and fifth-placed Dimitris Hondrokoukis who both stayed at 2.24m on the day.

The star of the evening was Dmitrik, the only one over 2.33, who moved on to clear a superb new global-leading 2.35m at the death before attempting a national record of 2.41m, but it wasn’t to be.

Dmitrik rises superbly over a world-leading 2.35m at the third


Fellow Russian Svetlana Shkolina was the victor or the women’s competition that rather surprisingly didn’t hit equivalent heights at a top-out of 1.95m ahead of returning American record holder Chaunte Howard-Lowe and Irina Gordeyeva, the latter two tying at 1.93m.

Ariane Friedrich (GER), struggling to revive her career, was down at 1.84m for an eventual ninth.


Extensive video containing plenty of the action in Hustopece


Ivan Ukhov bounced back to win the anchor leg of the Moravian High Jump Tour over a SB of 2.32m and turn the tables on Aleksey Dmitrik, who slipped down into fourth at just 2.25m, in Trince on Monday.

On a perfect card up to that stage, the European Indoor champion then raised the bar at a potential world-topper of 2.36m but could not overcome that barrier, failing in all three attempts.

Daegu surprise bronze medallist Trevor Barry moved up several places on his Hustopece display to take second at a season and indoor best of 2.29m where Jaroslav Baba sneaked third on countback at 2.25m.

In women, Maria Kushina (RUS) came narrowly shy of the World U20 indoor record of 1.97m she set at the same ground a year ago, still in that age group, but her SB a centimetre lower was still good enough to nose over countrywoman Svetlana Shkolina for top honours on countback.

Romania’s Esthera Petre was third at 1.93m and US record holder Chaunte Howard-Lowe followed in fourth at 1.90m on countback.