August 29, 2015 / 12:30 PM / in 2 years

Russian Kuchina takes high jump gold

BEIJING (Reuters) - Mariya Kuchina won the women’s high jump with a clearance of 2.01 meters on Saturday to become Russia’s second gold medalist at the Beijing world championships.

Maria Kuchina of Russia competes in the women's high jump final during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China, August 29, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

The 22-year-old from Moscow had a blemish-free card to that height, her lifetime best performance.

In silver and bronze positions were medal winners from this event in the Bird’s Nest Stadium at the Beijing Olympics seven years ago -- 31-year-old Croatian Blanka Vlasic and 33-year-old Russia Anna Chicherova.

Both also cleared 2.01 but had had failures earlier in the final. “I can’t believe that I am the champion,” said Kuchina, who won the world indoor title last year.

“It might have looked from the outside that I was calm but in fact my knees were trembling.”

Vlasic, world champion in 2007 and 2009, had struggled with injuries and illness for the past three years, including a spell sidelined due to a post-operative infection, and said she lacked confidence coming into Saturday’s final.

”I couldn’t even sleep today,“ she said. ”My usual afternoon nap was completely ruined because I was so nervous. That had never happened before, so I‘m really starting to worry

about myself.”

Chicherova, who has become a mother since winning Olympic gold in 2012, said: ”I think I will remember this championships for a long time and I can take it as my comeback.

“Maybe some people thought that I am some kind of a Supergirl but I am not. I do not know why but I felt tired during the competition.”

Reporting by Steve Downes, editing by Clare Fallon

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