High jumper Woo Sang-hyuk clears 2m35 to win Korea’s first-ever Diamond League Final in track and field
‘Smile Jumper’ Woo Sang-hyuk (27, Yongin City Hall) has reached another milestone in Korean athletics history. He became the first Korean athlete to win the Diamond League Final.
Woo won the men’s high jump at the World Athletics Diamond League Final 2023 at Hayward Field in Eugene, USA, on Sunday by clearing 2.35 meters. The height of 2.35 meters ties the Korean outdoor record set by Woo at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (4th) and the Eugene 2022 World Championships (2nd) and is his personal best this season. The Korean Athletics Federation combines the indoor and outdoor records for the men’s high jump, with Woo holding the Korean record of 2.36 meters (indoor).
Woo was followed by Jubon Harrison (USA) and Norbert Kowielski (POL), who both cleared 2.33 meters, with Kowielski coming in second due to his earlier success.
World-class track and field athletes compete in a total of 14 Diamond League events a year. After accumulating ranking points in 13 events, a final final crowns the overall winner. The first through eighth place finishers in each event receive 8 to 1 points, except in the case of the high jump, where the top six finishers punch their ticket to the final. The Final ranks right up there with the Olympics and World Championships.
Last year, Woo Sang-hyuk missed the final by just one point, but this year he qualified in fourth place. With both Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar), the world’s top jumper (29 points), and this year’s World Championships winner Jean-Marco Tamberi (Italy) absent from the event, Woo was expected to be in a tight two-way battle with Harrison.
Competing at the same venue where he won South Korea’s first ever World Championships silver medal last year, Woo cleared 2.15m, 2.20m, 2.25m and 2.29m in one go. He then cleared 2m33 to take sole possession of first place.
After joining Woo at 2m29, Harrison missed the first two attempts at 2m33 before coming close on the last attempt. Kowielski, who failed at 2.25m and 2.29m, cleared 2.33m on the first attempt, making it a three-way battle for the title.
The three athletes who attempted to raise the bar to 2m35 failed on their first two attempts. However, in the third and final period, Woo cleared the bar while Harrison and Kowielski failed, sealing the victory for Woo.
Woo will return home on July 19 and will now set his sights on the Hangzhou Asian Games. The men’s high jump final at the Hangzhou Asian Games will be held on October 4. South Korea hasn’t won a gold medal in the men’s high jump since Lee Jin-taek at the 2002 Busan Asian Games, and Woo will be looking to make it 21 years.
All eyes will be on the matchup between Woo and Barsim, especially since Barsim will be competing at the Asian Games after missing the Final. Barsim did 토토 not give a reason for his absence from the Final. However, after suffering from back and ankle injuries in 2017, he has been adjusting the number of tournaments he competes in each year, and his absence from the Final, which crowns the best player of the season, suggests that he is focusing on the Asian Games.
Woo will be looking to build on his momentum from the top of the Diamond League Final to defeat his rivals and claim his first Asian Games gold medal.