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Athletics - 26. February 2012.

Focus on the jumps – World Indoor Championship Istanbul 2012

In just two weeks time, the focus of the athletics world will fall firmly on Istanbul as the 14th edition of the IAAF World Indoor Championships gets underway on 9 March.

And much of that focus will fall squarely on the vertical jumps, thanks largely to Yelena Isinbayeva’s 5.01m World record clearance at the XL Galan Meeting in Stockholm on Thursday (23).

With her 13th World record indoors – and 28th overall – the 29-year-old Russian showed that she’ll very much be the woman to beat when competition in the event kicks off the final day’s action at Ataköy Athletics Arena on Sunday, 11 March. Her most recent record notwithstanding, Isinbayeva will nonetheless have to be at her best in Istanbul.

Indeed, the gap Isinbayeva spent much of the past decade creating continues to narrow as her challengers continue to soar higher. The first to make waves this season was Holly Bleasdale, barely 20, who scaled 4.87m in late January to move all the way up to the No. 2 spot all-time. But the precocious Briton was soon surpassed by an established star, Olympic silver medallist Jenn Suhr, who topped 4.88m earlier this month to reclaim history's No. 2 position behind Isinbayeva. Can the pair, along with Isinbayeva, who'll be chasing a fourth World indoor title, push each other even higher?

Another 29-year-old Russian who’s flying high on the road to Istanbul is Anna Chicherova who’ll start as one of the weekend’s strongest gold medal favourites. Last summer Chicherova scaled a 2.07m Russian national record in the lead-in to the World championships in Daegu where she would unseat reigning champion Blanka Vlasic. Last month Chicherova claimed the national indoor record as well with a 2.06m leap to equal the third highest clearance ever. Will her momentum take her even higher in Istanbul?
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