MOSCOW (AP) — Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine cleared a meet record 2.41 meters to win the gold medal in the men's high jump Thursday at the world championships, then narrowly failed to set a world record.
Bondarenko came close to clearing 2.46 in his second attempt, but brought the bar down with the small of his back. His first attempt was also close but he downed the bar with his hand in the third. Javier Sotomayor of Cuba has held the world mark of 2.45 since 1993.
Olympic bronze medalist Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar improved to silver this time, clearing 2.38. Derek Drouin of Canada earned the bronze by also clearing 2.38.
The medal podium reflected exactly the world leaders so far this year — Bondarenko had already cleared 2.41 one month ago.
Reigning Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov of Russia finished fourth at 2.35.
Bondarenko, wearing a yellow shoe on his right foot and a red one on the left, passed on 2.44 after he had cleared 2.41 on his second attempt and Barshim failed in the two attempts he had left for the height.
Barshim and Drouin may have paid the price for taking too many jumps. Both had taken 10 attempts by the end of the competition.
Bondarenko, however, needed only four jumps to win gold, one at 2.29, one at 2.35 and two at 2.41.
"I have a minor instep injury and that's why I skipped several heights today," Bondarenko said.
He also may have been preserving energy for the world record attempt, and two large blocks of Ukrainian fans wearing yellow and blue were ready to celebrate.
Shouting his name before each attempt, they went silent as time neared for him to jump. It was not to be this time, but Bondarenko, who turns 24 at the end of this month, looks like the man who could finally break Sotomayor's 20-year-old record.
"It was my third attempt this year to break Sotomayor's record but I was too nervous today. You need a cool head and cool blood to do it," Bondarenko said.
By clearing 2.41, Bondarenko already shares third place on the all-time list. Apart from Sotomayor, only Patrik Sjoberg of Sweden has gone higher, 2.42 in 1987. Igor Paklin of Russia cleared 2.41 in 1985.