High jumper Woo Sang-hyeok wins Diamond League title
High jumper Woo Sang-hyeok became the first Korean ever to win a World Athletics Diamond League event on Friday, beating Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Mutaz Essa Barshim by three centimeters at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Woo, the current world indoor champion, overcame the odds in very windy conditions to take first place with a height of 2.33 meters. With only four athletes managing to cleat 2.20 meters due to the unfavorable weather conditions — it was so windy in Doha that the men's pole vault had to be rescheduled — Woo's effort saw him far outpace the pack and take the world lead spot for the current season.
After clearing 2.20 meters in one jump, Woo struggled at 2.24 meters, needing all three attempts to clear the bar. After that early stumble, Woo cleared 2.27 meters in two attempts before clearing 2.30 meters and 2.33 meters on his first attempt each time.
With first place already secured, Woo took a couple of attempts at 2.35 meters and one attempt at 2.37 meters, but failed to clear the bar at either height.
Tokyo Olympics co-gold medalists Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy entered the competition as clear favorites, but were unable to come close to challenging Woo. Barshim finished second, clearing 2.30 meters but failing to jump any higher, while Tamberi was only able to clear 2.20 meters on his third attempt and failed to advance any further.
The Diamond League is the top tier of World Athletics competition, with 13 events held throughout the year starting in Doha on Friday. The tournaments are invitational, with only elite athletes invited to compete. One-day competitions are held weekly throughout the summer, with the league continuing in Birmingham, Britain on Saturday.
Woo is the first Korean ever to win an event at a Diamond League competition.
Woo's Diamond League honors continue a phenomenal year for the 26-year-old high jumper. Woo finished in fourth place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last year with a height of 2.35 meters, setting a new Korean record and becoming the first Korean high jumper to reach an Olympics final since 1996.
Woo has racked up the accolades since then, winning gold at the 2022 World Indoor Athletics Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in March to become the world indoor champion, and earlier this month taking gold at the Naju Athletics Championships in Naju, South Jeolla earlier this month.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]