High jumper Woo Sang-hyeok wins Korea's first World Championships silver medal
High jumper Woo Sang-hyeok is Korea's first-ever World Athletics Championships silver medalist, clearing a height of 2.35 meters at the 2022 tournament in Oregon on Monday.
Woo arrived in the final on Monday having cleared every height in one attempt during his qualification run last week. That result put Woo first in the order on Monday.
After clearing his first four jumps on the first attempt, Woo took three attempts to clear 2.33 meters and two attempts to clear 2.35 meters. He was one of only two athletes to clear 2.35 meters, at the time the world-leading height for the 2022 season, alongside Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar.
2020 Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Barshim went on to clear 2.37 meters, the new world-leading height for the season, to take gold. Woo took one failed attempt at 2.37 meters before opting to move straight on to 2.39 meters. He failed both attempts at the higher jump to settle for silver.
Having already secured gold, Barshim returned to the field one more time to take a crack at 2.42 meters, looking to improve his personal best on the season. After one failed attempt, the Qatari high jumper decided to call it a day.
Ukraine's Andriy Protsenko collected bronze on the back of a 2.33 meter jump, while Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi, who famously shared the 2020 Olympic gold medal with Barshim, finished fourth with 2.30 meters.
Woo, the current indoor world champion, is the first Korean to win a silver medal at the World Athletics Championships and Korea's second medalist ever.
Speed walker Kim Hyun-sub took bronze in the 20-kilometer race at 2011 World Athletics Championships, which were held on home turf in Daegu. Kim finished sixth in the race on the day, but moved up to third after three other athletes failed doping tests.
In March, Woo won gold at the 2022 World Indoor Championships with a height of 2.34 meters, and in May became the first Korean ever to win a World Athletics Diamond League title.
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. Woo beat stiff competition — including from Barshim — and strong winds to take the title with a height of 2.33 meters.
Woo currently holds the Korean record of 2.35 meters, which he set at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and matched in Oregon on Monday. He broke the long-standing Korean record of 2.34 meters, set on June 20, 1997 by Lee Jin-taek.
Woo is a two-time Olympian, having competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Tokyo Olympics. Back in 2016, Woo only managed to clear the bar at 2.26 meters, failing to reach the final. In Tokyo, Woo advanced to the final, the first Korean to advance to the finals since the 1996 Atlanta Games, where Lee finished eighth.
Woo finished fourth in Tokyo, narrowly missing out on a medal.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]