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Records that are hard to ignore


When you reach the type of level that Bohdan Bondarenko has reached - World champion and European Athlete of the Year - then expectation arrives with every performance.

It is the nature of sport, and will always remain the same.

But few athletes other than the men’s high jumpers have people wondering whether the World or European record will be broken every time they enter the stadium.

Yet that has now become the case for European stars such as Ukrainian Bondarenko, and Russia’s Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov, among others, after the way they have started the season.

It is coming up to the 21st anniversary of Cuban Javier Sotomayor’s 2.45m in Salamanca, a World record that has remained a benchmark for so many.

Equally, the European record height of 2.42m which Sweden’s Patrik Sjoberg set in Stockholm even longer ago, on June 30, 1987, is within the grasp of both Bondarenko and Ukhov.

The Russian leads the summer’s World rankings with 2.41m while Bondarenko has cleared 2.40m.

They are so close.

Which brings us neatly to Saturday evening in New York and the next stop in the IAAF Diamond League season.

Bondarenko is in a field of seven, where his main rival is Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim who has a season’s best of 2.41m and the competition for first place is set to be between the pair of them.

But should Bondarenko reach 2.38m without any trouble, the bar is likely to be raised to Sjoberg’s mark or beyond.

It is the measure of the standard of the event at this moment in time that a record attempt is the norm but it remains impossible to say who will finally achieve it.

Sjoberg’s mark could be under its biggest threat when the heat of the competition is at its greatest in Zurich at the European Athletics Championships in August.

Though, no doubt, starting again tonight, it will be on Bondarenko’s mind.