Zhang tops high jump, Eaton in charge of decathlon
By Gene Cherry
BEIJING (Reuters) - Home favorite Guowei Zhang sailed into the high jump final at the world athletics championship on Friday with a confident clearance of 2.31 meters, while American Ashton Eaton predictably took charge of the decathlon.
Zhang, the world number two, cleared four jumps at the first attempt and then the automatic qualifying height for Sunday's final to finish joint-top with Canadian Derek Drouin on the seventh morning of action in China.
The home crowd were already in a buoyant mood after Liu Hong won the women's 20 kilometer walk to pick up China's first gold of the meet before Zhang put in a confident display.
His efforts were matched by Drouin, the Olympic bronze medalist with a personal best of 2.40m, the Canadian pleased to have had a quick workout.
"Today my goal was to clear all heights with the first attempt, what I managed, and saved energy for the final," he told reporters.
"I came to Beijing with the main goal -- a new PB (personal best). I feel super fit and confident. If my new PB would not be enough for a medal that would be devastating."
Zhang and Drouin were joined in the final by defending champion Bogdan Bondarenko from Ukraine, who also cleared the 2.31m height at the first time of asking after needing two attempts at 2.29m.
Qatari world indoor champion Mutaz Essa Barshim also sailed through at 2.31m, while Brandon Starc became the first Australian to qualify for the final since 1997 after clearing the same height. Continued...