‘Smile Jumper’ Woo Sang-hyuk (27, Yongin City Hall) finished second for the second consecutive time at the 2023 World Athletics Diamond League.
Woo Sang-hyuk cleared 2.30 meters in the men’s high jump final at the Rome-Florence Diamond League 2023 at the Luigi Ridolfi Stadium in Florence, Italy, on Wednesday (June 3) to finish second behind Jubon Harrison (USA), who cleared 2.32 meters.
Harrison won the opening meeting of this year’s Diamond League on May 6 in Doha with a height of 2.32 meters, while Woo was second at 2.27 meters.
In their rematch after 28 days, Woo and Harrison fought hard.
The competition started at 2.10 meters, but Woo made his first jump at 2.15 meters.
Woo cleared both 2.15 and 2.20 in the first period.
At 2.24m, the bar caught on his calf on the first attempt, but he was happy to clear on the second attempt.
Woo also failed 2.27m in the first attempt.
However, he cleared the bar in the second attempt and then performed a hilarious motorcycle ceremony.
After 2.27m, only Woo, Harrison and Luis Sayas (27-Cuba) remained in the field.
Woo cleared 2.30 meters in the first round, waving his right index finger and looking confident.
Harrison also cleared 2.30 meters in the first round.
With Sayas failing to clear 2.30 meters, Woo and Harrison went head-to-head for the title.
After raising the bar to 2.32 meters, both Woo and Harrison failed in the first and second periods.
“It’s a shame,” Woo exclaimed after just touching the bar on his second attempt.
Harrison cleared 2.32 meters in the third period, and Woo dropped the bar in the third period as well.
Woo clapped his hands above his head and thanked the crowd for their supportive “WOO, WOO” chants. His smile was tinged with regret.
Speaking to Yonhap after the game, Woo said, “I’m playing for Korea, and it doesn’t make sense that they’re calling my name. I can’t believe that I get this kind of support every time I compete,” he smiled.
“It’s fun to compete with Harrison. It makes the high jump more fun. It’s fun to compete with Harrison and encourage each other,” he said, adding, “It’s a shame I didn’t win. I’ll try to jump higher next time.”
Despite missing out on the title, Woo Sang-hyuk once again proved to be the world’s best jumper.
The reigning world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar) was absent from the competition.
However, all nine of the men’s high jumpers competing at the Florence Diamond League are ‘world class’.
As of today, eight athletes have qualified for the men’s high jump at the World Championships in Budapest in August. Four of them – Woo, Harrison, Hamish Kerr (New Zealand) and Andriy Prochenko (Ukraine) – competed at this meet.
Kerr is fourth at 2.24m, while Prochenko, the 2022 Outdoor World Championships bronze medalist, is eighth at 2.15m.
It is also encouraging to see that Woo Sang-hyuk has recovered from his ‘ankle injury trauma’.
At the Doha Diamond League on May 6, Woo was unable to step on his cloud feet for fear of a recurrence of the ankle injury he suffered last fall.
However, after clearing 2.32 meters at the KBS Bae (Yecheon) on May 9, which doubled as a qualifier for the Hangzhou Asian Games, he was confident that he was “completely free of injury concerns.”
At the Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, on May 21, he won his first international title of the season with a jump of 2.29 meters.
On his first jump in June, Woo cleared 2.30 meters.
Only Harrison (2.33, 2.32, 2.32), Joel Baden (2.33, 2.32-Australia) and Woo (2.32, 2.30) have cleared 2.30 at least twice in outdoor competition in 2023.
Sang-hyuk made the leap to become one of the world’s top jumpers at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, finishing fourth (2.35m), the highest ever for South Korean track and field, and went on to win the 2022 World Indoor Championships (2.34m), win the 2022 Doha Diamond League (2.33m) and finish second (2.35m) at the 2022 Eugene Outdoor World Championships, setting new milestones for South Korean athletics.
Woo’s victory in Doha earned him $6,000 (approximately $784,000) in prize money and seven ranking points toward the Diamond League Final 먹튀검증.
Woo (14 points) is also second in the Diamond League Men’s High Jump Ranking Points standings behind Harrison (16 points).
After the trip to Japan and Italy, Woo will return to Korea on Thursday for a short rest before beginning training for the Asian Athletics Championships in Bangkok, Thailand in July.