Athletics: First gold for Russian neutrals as Lasitskene retains high jump title

World Athletics Championships
Athletics - World Athletics Championships – women's high jump final – London Stadium, London, Britain – August 12, 2017 – Neutral athlete Maria Lasitskene competes. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

August 12, 2017

By Christian Radnedge

LONDON (Reuters) – Maria Lasitskene became the first Russian to win a gold medal at the World Championships in London after successfully defending her high jump title on Saturday, and said that she still hopes to break the long-standing world record this season.

The 24-year-old, competing as an authorized neutral athlete, stretched her unbeaten streak to 25 competitions by clearing 2.03 meters to triumph in the London Stadium.

Having already secured gold, Lasitskene tried to beat the Russian national record and her own personal best by jumping 2.08m. But despite her intense concentration before each jump, she failed on all three attempts.

Still, it was a comfortable triumph for the athlete who missed out on going for her first Olympic title last year following her country’s ban from the Rio Games after a WADA report exposed widespread doping in Russian athletics.

“A gold medal here was my main goal for this season but certainly I would like to raise the bar a bit higher. I didn’t like any one of my attempts at 2.08m,” she said.

“I hope I still have potential to break the world record this season,” she added of the 2.09m mark set by Bulgaria’s Stefka Kostadinova 30 years ago.

Yuliia Levchenko of Ukraine won her first major global medal by taking silver on Saturday after clearing a personal best height of 2.01m, while Kamila Licwinko of Poland, who jumped 1.99m, won bronze to pick up her maiden major outdoor medal.

“I am super excited for my first major medal from an outdoor championships. I am hungry to stay up here now and want to jump more and more,” Licwinko said.

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; editing by Ken Ferris; editing by Ken Ferris)