Blanka Vlašić

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Blanka Vlašić
Blanka Vlasic by Augustas Didzgalvis.jpg
Blanka Vlašić
Personal information
Born (1983-11-08) November 8, 1983 (age 31)
Split, SFR Yugoslavia
Residence Split, Croatia
Height 1.94 m (6 ft 4 in)
Weight 75 kilograms (165 lb)
Sport
Country  Croatia
Coached by Joško Vlašić
Bojan Marinović
Achievements and titles
World finals 1st (Osaka, 2007)
1st (Berlin, 2009)
Olympic finals 2nd (Beijing, 2008)
Personal best(s) High jump (outdoor): 2.08 m (NR)
High jump (indoor): 2.06 m (NR)[1]

Blanka Vlašić (Croatian pronunciation: [ˈblaːŋka ˈʋlaʃitɕ]) (born 8 November 1983) is a Croatian athlete who specialises in the high jump. She is the Croatian record holder in the event, and the former indoor World Champion. The daughter of Croatian decathlon record holder Joško Vlašić, she was a talented junior athlete and attended her first Olympic Games in 2000 Sydney at the age of sixteen. She won the World Junior Championships in Athletics in both 2000 and 2002. Vlašić broke her national record in 2004 and also won her first world senior medal at the World Indoor Championships that year. A hyperthyroid condition hindered her second Olympic appearance in Athens and she spent the 2005 season recuperating from surgery.

She returned in 2006, taking the silver at the World Indoor Championships. The 2007 season signalled a strong run of form: she won at the 2007 World Championships, became the indoor world champion in 2008 and her winning streak came to an end with a narrow loss at the Beijing Olympics, where she took silver. She became World Champion for a second time in 2009. She ranks second in the all-time high jump rankings, behind Stefka Kostadinova.[2][3] Her awards also including the IAAF World Athlete of the Year 2010 and European Athlete of the Year Trophy (2007,2010).

Early life[edit]

Blanka Vlašić was born on 8 November 1983 in Split, Croatia. From a young age, it was natural for her to be involved in sports: her mother Venera was a seasoned amateur in basketball and cross country skiing while her father, Joško Vlašić, was an international athlete who broke the Croatian record in the decathlon.[4] Her father brought her to the track while he practised and she dreamed of becoming a professional sprinter.[5] As she grew up she tried a number of sports but found that the high jump was particularly well-suited to her tall and slender frame.[4] Vlašić shunned the idea of competing in more profitable sports, such as basketball, saying that she preferred the thrill of individual sports.[5] She reached the international standard for a high jumper at an early age, setting a personal best of 1.80 metres at fifteen years of age and quickly improving to 1.93 m at sixteen.[1]

Vlašić quickly became Croatia's top female high jump athlete.

Junior career[edit]

Accordingly, she had an early start in international competition: she competed at the inaugural World Youth Championships, finishing eighth,[6] and represented her country for the first time at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Although the Olympics showed that she was not ready to compete at the senior level, she proved herself to be more than proficient at the junior level by winning the 2000 World Junior Championships with a jump of 1.91 m.[7] She was a regular competitor at senior athletics meetings and was steadily improving, qualifying for further top-level senior events. Vlašić finished sixth at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton with a mark of 1.94 m, a result which led the IAAF's Ed Gordon to mark her out as a future star in the event.[8] She rounded off the year by winning her first senior gold medal at an international tournament, taking first place at the 2001 Mediterranean Games.[9]

The results of Vlašić's final year as a junior showed further development as a high jumper. She set a new indoor best of 1.92 m at the 2002 European Indoor Championships and was the favourite to win the 2002 World Juniors.[1][5] She won the competition by a margin of nine centimetres, setting a new personal best of 1.96 m and attempting the symbolic two metres height. She failed to pass the bar but remained pleased with her achievements: "This was the first time I tried the 2-metre mark. That would have been a bonus. Today what matters is the gold. I am very happy I retained my world junior title".[10] At the final major event of the season, the European Championships, she could not repeat her previous form and finished in fifth place.[5] Nevertheless, at the end of the year she was ranked in the top ten high jumpers in the world for the season.[11]

Rising contender[edit]

The start to the 2003 athletics season was promising – she set a new personal best in Linz with a jump of 1.98 m and finished fourth at the World Indoor Championships ten days later, her highest finish in a major world tournament.[1][12] June and July yielded further progress, jumping 1.98 m again and improving to 1.99 m to win her first IAAF Golden League event at the Gaz de France. Days later, she jumped the two metres height for the first time on home soil at the IAAF Grand Prix Zagreb.[5] Although Hestrie Cloete won the competition overall, Vlašić's defeat of the psychological barrier and improved personal best was the highlight of the meeting and Cloete praised the young athlete's performance.[13] Vlašić took gold at the 2003 European Athletics Under-23 Championships,[14] and then she improved her best by another centimetre at the Zürich Grand Prix which qualified her for the World Championships and the first IAAF World Athletics Final. Despite such previous highs, her season ended on a low note as she failed to win a medal at either the World Championships (finishing seventh with 1.95 m) or the Athletics Final in Paris (ending up fourth with 1.96 m).[5][15] Although she had failed to reach the podium at the major championships, only three athletes managed to jump higher than her personal and season's best of 2.01 m in 2003.[16]

National record and health problems[edit]

Vlasic started the season well with a bronze medal performance at the 2004 IAAF World Indoor Championships in March. She regularly reached the podium at meetings in the outdoor season and won the 2004 national championships.[1] A Croatian record breaking jump of 2.03 m in Ljubljana put her in good stead for the 2004 Athens Olympics. However, when she competed at the Olympic high jump final she only managed eleventh place with a jump of 1.89 m. Following this, Vlašić did not compete for almost a year: she admitted that she was feeling lethargic and shortly afterwards she was diagnosed with a hyperthyroid condition.[5]

Surgery and recovery ruled out the vast majority of the 2005 athletics season and she only managed to make two competitive appearances.[4] A best of 1.95 m guaranteed her victory at the national championships,[17] but her jump of 1.88 m was not enough to progress into the finals of the 2005 World Championships.[5]

Although her poor health had spoiled her medals chances at the two major championships of 2004 and 2005, Vlašić came back fully recovered and stronger in the 2006 season.[5] She raised her indoor best to 2.05 m (a national record) at a meet in Banská Bystrica in February,[18] and took silver at the 2006 IAAF World Indoor Championships. Although she was beaten to the gold medal by Yelena Slesarenko, she remained positive: "Of course I wanted to win. But when I remember that I was in hospital one year ago it is great."[19] The 2006 European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg proved to be a bittersweet experience: she cleared 2.01 m to finish in fourth place, behind Tia Hellebaut, Venelina Veneva and Kajsa Bergqvist. This was the best-ever non-medal winning jump, and bronze medallist Bergqvist had also finished with 2.01 m but had managed it in fewer attempts.[5][14] Vlašić capped the season off with an appearance at the 2006 World Athletics Final but withdrew from the competition after her third jump, finishing sixth.[20]

2007-2011[edit]

Vlašić receiving her gold medal at the Osaka World Championships

Although she recorded an indoor season's best of 2.01 m in February,[21] she failed to repeat her previous season's indoor form and finished fifth at the 2007 European Athletics Indoor Championships (later upgraded to fourth after Venelina Veneva tested positive for banned substances).[1][22]

During the 2007 season, Vlašić jumped over two metres in seventeen of her nineteen outdoor competitions, along with several close attempts at a would-be world record of 2.10 m.

Vlašić also won eighteen out of nineteen outdoor competitions, with her only loss coming early in the season at the first Golden League meeting in Oslo. As the women's high jump was a jackpot event this year, had Vlašić won here, she would have won (along with Russian Pole Vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and American sprinter Sanya Richards) a share of the Golden League jackpot ($1,000,000).

Vlašić's consistency over two metres, and consistency at the first attempt, this season, put her as a firm favourite to challenge for honours at August's World Championships and she proved the expectations had been right. She became a world champion with a jump of 2.05 m.

Vlašić preparing to jump at the 2009 World Championships

In early October, Vlašić was named female European Athlete of the Year by the European Athletic Association after the combined votes of a panel of experts, a group of journalists and the public.[23] She is the first Croatian athlete and the first high jumper to win this award.

From Beijing Olympics to Berlin World Championships[edit]

En route to her 2.08 m jump in Zagreb.

At the 2008 Summer Olympics, held in Beijing, Vlašić won the silver medal, beaten by the Belgian Tia Hellebaut (both cleared 2.05 m, but Vlašić needed one more attempt than Hellebaut). This ended her recent unbeaten streak of 34 competitions. Vlašić's season ended in despair, as she was again beaten on countback in the final leg of the ÅF Golden League series, which ended her chances of winning the $1,000,000 jackpot. Having won the previous 5 Golden League events, she finished Memorial Van Damme meeting in 2nd place to Ariane Friedrich.

August 2009 was a month of highlights for Vlašić as she won gold at the World Championships in Berlin, then set a new personal best at Zagreb.

On 20 August, she won her second World Championship high jump crown, clearing 2.04 m on her second attempt to win gold.[24]

Her personal best came 31 August at a meet at Zagreb, Croatia, her home country. She cleared 2.05 m on her first attempt, thus setting a meet record, then attempted and cleared 2.08 m setting a new personal best and tying the second-best performance of all-time in the event. Her three attempts to set a new world record at 2.10 m failed.[25]

Despite missing some meetings due to a virus in early 2010, further improvements came when she cleared 2.06 m indoors in Arnstadt in February. The victory at the Hochsprung mit Musik meeting brought her to third on the all-time indoor lists.[26]

At the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, Blanka won the silver medal.[27]

2012-present[edit]

Vlašić decided to have an operation on her left Achilles tendon in January 2012. Although the operation in itself seemed to have gone well, an infection developed and she had to be re-operated on in April. A slow healing process delayed her preparations for the London Olympics and she had to withdraw.[28][29] Vlašić did not compete in any other event of the season, therefore missing the whole indoor and outdoor season of 2012.

Vlašić managed to jump 2 meters while working on stabilization of her ankle as she approached the 2013 Moscow World championship. Unfortunately she had to withdraw due to fear that she had not yet fully recovered.[30]

In 2014, Vlašić finished 6th at the world indoor championship.[31] Due to a jumper's knee injury in her left knee,[32] she had to whitdraw from European championships in Zürich.[33]

Statistics[edit]

As of 7 February 2010

Personal bests[edit]

Event Best (m) Venue Date
High jump (outdoor) 2.08 Zagreb, Croatia 31 August 2009
High jump (indoor) 2.06 Arnstadt, Germany 6 February 2010
  • All information taken from IAAF profile.[1]

Major competition record[edit]

Year Tournament Venue Result Notes
2000 World Junior Championships Santiago, Chile 1st 1.91 m
2001 World Championships Edmonton, Canada 6th 1.94 m (o)
Mediterranean Games Tunis, Tunisia 1st 1.90 m
2002 World Junior Championships Kingston, Jamaica 1st 1.96m
European Championships Munich, Germany 5th 1.89m (xo)
2003 World Indoor Championships Birmingham, England 4th 1.96 m (o)
World Championships Paris, France 7th 1.95 m
World Athletics Final Monte Carlo, Monaco 4th
2004 World Indoor Championships Budapest, Hungary 3rd 1.97 m (o)
Olympic Games Athens, Greece 11th 1.89m (o)
2006 World Indoor Championships Moscow, Russia 2nd 2.00 m (xo)
European Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 4th 2.01 m (o)
World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 6th
2007 European Indoor Championships Birmingham, UK 4th 1.92 m (o)
World Championships Osaka, Japan 1st 2.05 m (xxo)
World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 1st 2.00 m
2008 World Indoor Championships Valencia, Spain 1st 2.03 m (xo)
Olympic Games Beijing, PR China 2nd 2.05 m (xo)
World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 1st 2.01 m
2009 World Championships Berlin, Germany 1st 2.04 m (xo)
World Athletics Final Thessaloniki, Greece 1st 2.04 m (o)
2010 World Indoor Championships Doha, Qatar 1st 2.00 m (o)
European Championships Barcelona, Spain 1st 2.03 m (xo)
2011 World Championships Daegu, South Korea 2nd 2.03 m (xo)
2014 World Indoor Championships Sopot, Poland 6th 1.94 m (o)

Personal life[edit]

Vlašić was named after Casablanca, a city where her father competed and won a gold medal at the 1983 Mediterranean Games around the time of her birth.[34]

From the beginning of her career she has been coached by her father, Joško Vlašić and a former high jumper Bojan Marinović.

Blanka is today a member of the ‘Champions for Peace’ club, a group of 54 famous elite athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport, created by Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organization.[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Vlašic Blanka Biography. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-05-08.
  2. ^ High Jump All Time (indoors). IAAF (2009-09-01). Retrieved on 2009-09-01.
  3. ^ High Jump All Time (outdoors). IAAF (2009-09-01). Retrieved on 2009-09-01.
  4. ^ a b c Blanka Vlasic biography. Spikes Magazine. Retrieved on 2009-05-08.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ramsak, Bob (2008-03-05). Focus on Athletes – Blanka Vlasic. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-05-08.
  6. ^ Official Results – HIGH JUMP – Women – Final. IAAF (1999-07-17). Retrieved on 2009-05-08.
  7. ^ Official Results – HIGH JUMP – Women – Final. IAAF (2000-10-20). Retrieved on 2009-05-08.
  8. ^ Gordon, Ed (2001-08-12). Cloete gives South Africa Gold. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-05-08.
  9. ^ Mediterranean Games. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 2009-05-08.
  10. ^ It’s Croatia’s day in Kingston. IAAF (2002-07-20). Retrieved on 2009-05-08.
  11. ^ High Jump 2002. IAAF (2007-12-13). Retrieved on 2009-05-08.
  12. ^ High Jump – W Final. IAAF (2003-03-16). Retrieved on 2009-05-08.
  13. ^ Capacity Croatian crowd worships at Vlasic’s temple. IAAF (2003-07-08). Retrieved on 2009-05-08.
  14. ^ a b 23-year-old Blanka Vlasic (CRO) wins the Waterford Crystal European Female Athlete of the Year 2007. European Athletics (2007-10-04). Retrieved on 2009-06-18.
  15. ^ High Jump W. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-06-18.
  16. ^ High Jump 2003. IAAF (2004-02-16). Retrieved on 2009-05-08.
  17. ^ High Jump 2005. IAAF (2006-01-12). Retrieved on 2009-06-18.
  18. ^ Vlasic flying high. European Athletics (2006-07-19). Retrieved on 2009-06-18.
  19. ^ Women's High Jump Final. IAAF (2006-03-12). Retrieved on 2009-06-18.
  20. ^ High Jump W Final. IAAF (2006-09-09). Retrieved on 2009-06-18.
  21. ^ High Jump 2007 i. IAAF (2008-04-04). Retrieved on 2009-06-18.
  22. ^ 29th European Athletics Indoor Championships. European Athletics. Retrieved on 2009-06-18.
  23. ^ "23-year-old Blanka Vlasic (CRO) wins the Waterford Crystal European Female Athlete of the Year 2007". European-athletics.org. Retrieved 2012-10-23. 
  24. ^ "12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics Track and Field". Berlin.iaaf.org. Retrieved 2012-10-23. 
  25. ^ "Vlasic tops 2.08m in Zagreb – IAAF World Athletics Tour". iaaf.org. 2009-08-31. Retrieved 2012-10-23. 
  26. ^ Ramsak, Bob (2010-02-06). Vlasic improves to 2.06m in Arnstadt. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-02-08.
  27. ^ "Blanka Vlašić planning to bounce back after frustrating 2011". Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  28. ^ "Another operation interrupted Blanka’s Olympic prep". Retrieved 2012-11-23. 
  29. ^ "Blanka Vlasic pulls out of London Games". Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  30. ^ https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1405623292982594&set=vb.108930319155814&type=2&permPage=1IAAF Inside Athletics Episode 26 - Exclusive Interview with Blanka Vlasic
  31. ^ http://www.index.hr/sport/clanak/hrvatice-pokorile-prag-blanka-preskocila-dva-metra-simic-uzela-srebro/730724.aspx
  32. ^ https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=sv&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.svd.se%2Fsport%2F3821282.svd&edit-text=
  33. ^ https://www.facebook.com/378491412525/photos/a.10150251232252526.376900.378491412525/10152688058737526/?type=1
  34. ^ "Our Ambassadors: Blanka Vlašić". diamondleague.com. Diamond League AG. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  35. ^ "Peace and Sport". Peace-sport.org. Retrieved 2012-10-23. 

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Sweden Carolina Klüft
Spain Marta Domínguez
Women's European Athlete of the Year
2007
2010
Succeeded by
Russia Yelena Isinbayeva
Russia Mariya Savinova
Preceded by
United States Sanya Richards
IAAF World Athlete of the Year
2010
Succeeded by
Australia Sally Pearson
Preceded by
United States Sanya Richards
Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
2010
Succeeded by
Kenya Vivian Cheruiyot
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Sweden Kajsa Bergqvist
Women's High Jump Best Year Performance
2007–2010
Succeeded by
Russia Anna Chicherova