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Vlasic still in the frame


Blanka Vlasic has unfinished business with Beijing and the Bird’s Nest Stadium – the reason why she cannot be discounted from making the top of the podium at this month’s world championships despite a summer wrecked by injury.

The Croatian high jumper cancelled all her competitions in July as she recovered from an Achilles tendon injury but her agent has confirmed everything is gearing towards the championships in just over two weeks.

Daniel Wessfeldt said: “All is going well and full focus is on her participation in China.”

If she makes it in the shape she hopes to, her mind might drift back for more than a moment to 2008 and the Olympic Games in the same arena.

It was there that Vlasic, 31, the double world champion and 2010 European champion, suffered the toughest of agonies as she missed out on gold.

In a thrilling final, she was beaten on countback by Belgium’s Tia Hellebaut, with the winning height making all the difference in the calculations.

Hellebaut went over first time at 2.05m but Vlasic, who had made unblemished progress to that stage of the final, needed two attempts, the first failure to clear it proving decisive as it gave the Belgian victory.

Seven years on, Vlasic will arrive in Beijing with a season’s best of 1.97m, which puts her fifth on both the world and European Athletics rankings which are led by Russia’s Anna Chicherova with 2.03m.

She remains very much in the mix, even with the lack of competition.

Chicherova was third behind Vlasic in Beijing before winning the Olympic crown in London four years later and along with world and European indoor champion Mariya Kuchina, they are among a Russian team of 71 for the Championships but defending champion Svetlana Shkolina misses out with injury.