The meet director of Oslo’s ExxonMobil Bislett Games, Steinar Hoen, has finally been able to express his true athletics passion by gathering together one of the finest men’s high jump fields ever assembled at a Samsung Diamond League.
Hoen is of course is still the Norwegian record holder in the event and his performance of 2.36m has stood for well over a decade. Hence his resolve to again have Oslo’s Bislett stadium react to the male high jumpers as it did in the 90s , when the spectators gathered tightly on the curve at the Olympic gate end of the arena and would wildly cheer every clearance.
Steinar Hoen has gathered a selection of the world’s finest and he knows that as the bar approaches Javier Sotomayor’s stadium record (2.37) the atmosphere amongst the knowledgeable Bislett crowd will reach fever pitch.
The Russian high jumping team is currently the strongest in the world and they have all confirmed to be at Bislett.
World Indoor Champion Ivan Ukhov who boasts a personal best of 2.40m and was virtually untouchable indoors will lead the assault. World outdoor champion Yaroslav Ryabakov (2.38m PB) and current Olympic Champion Andrey Silnov (also 2.38m PB) will also be present. Adding to that trio will be Aleksandr Shustov whose strong jumping in the wet conditions in Barcelona last season saw take the European title. (A title previously won by both Silnov, Ryabakov and indeed Steinar Hoen.)
Steinar Hoen clearly remembers the fierce competitions and the harrowing after parties ... something always favoured by high jumpers of the time! Fighting for victories against the likes of Sweden’s Patrick Sjoberg, Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor, the German’s Deitmar Mogenburg and Carlo Thranhardt with results around the 2.40m mark. Then celebrating these extraordinary contests with his fellow competitors in to the small hours of the following morning … often the athletes missed their return flights as the parties went very late indeed, even though Vodka and Red Bull did not really exist in the 90s.
The competitors of the 90s did however draw the line at imbibing prior to a meet but they are obviously impressed by the extraordinary YouTube footage of Ukhov at Lausanne, some years ago. Ivan Ukhov now has his sights set on much more meaningful YouTube footage … winning a World Championship or clearing a new World Record would be the only vision that the native of Chelyabinsk wants to see! Besides the competition provided by his fellow countrymen Ukhov faces further challenges from a rejuvenated 2007 World Champion Donald Thomas of the Bahamas and the very consistent Cypriot Iaonnou.
Although Bislett stadium is regarded as “the World Record Stadium“, the only time a High Jump World Record was established in the arena was in 1961 when the Romanian Iona Balas set an “unofficial world junior best” of 1.70m in the women’s event.
By Maurie Plant