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Niki Palli enjoyed the spotlight and Olga Dogadko eclipsed her own national record in the pole vault during an exciting second session of Israeli Track & Field Championships at Hadar Yosef Stadium in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night.
Palli, 19, cleared 2.30 meters in the high jump, bettering his own junior national record and matching the minimum for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He improved his mark by two centimeters, while winning his second national title.
In a field with two Russians who cleared 2.20m, the Israel Athletics Association male Athlete of the Year had competition as he approached the record. After Ivan Ilichev failed at 2.23m and Mikhail Tsvetkov at 2.28m, Palli was alone at 2.30m. He missed his first attempt at the height and cleared the mark on his second.
"The first miss didn't bother me," he said. "I regrouped and did it."
After setting the record, Palli missed on three attempts at 2.37, which would've set a new Israeli record. His coach, Albert Funjin, said that the purpose of attempting 2.37 wasn't as much to get the record but to give Palli confidence at the height for future attempts.
"[It] was for experience, to show that he was not afraid," he said. "His jumps were good and one day, he will do it."
Although both Palli and Dogadko set personal bests Wednesday night, neither was satisfied with their current marks. They will be in competition on Sunday at the Jerusalem Grand Prix, attempting to reach new heights. Dogadko cleared 4.02m on her third attempt to improve the national record she set last year by one centimeter.
In her first two attempts at the height, Valerie Kogan, the former coach of Israeli pole vault star Alex Averbukh and current national coach of Uzbekistan, said that she didn't have full momentum at takeoff.
On the third attempt, things were different. "She attacked the pole with more power, which leads to more bend, more energy and better heights," he said.
After resetting the record, the IAA female Athlete of the Year couldn't clear 4.09m. "The goal was more [than 4.02 m]," Dogadko said. "I felt good, and Sunday is another tournament. I hope to improve then."
Canadian Carly Dockendorf won the event by topping 4.17m.
Dovdako's mark is still 18cm shy of the qualifying standard for the European Championships next month in Sweden. However, IAA chairman Shlomo Ben-Gal said that this disparity has more to do with the IAA budget than her lack of ability. In addition to training for the pole vault, Dovdako is searching for employment in the high-tech field.
"If she could [train full time], she would've cleared 4.09 and had a chance at the minimum for the European Championships," he said. "Our budget is NIS 600,000 - which is one player on Maccabi Tel Aviv. There is no way for an athlete to train morning and night and still have a full-time job."
Earlier, Rita Pogarelov was victorious in the women's 200m with a time of 25.21 seconds, 0.3 seconds faster that Liat Anav. Mickey Bar-Yeoshua won the men's equivalent in 21.07.
Other noteworthy results included veteran Dorit Naor edging Khen Edri for the women's javelin 40.34m to 39.14m, while Vadim Bavikin took the men's with a 72.20m throw. Sivan Jean took the women's shot put (15.01m) and Svetlana Gnezdilov won the long jump (6.24m). Gil Sheleg won in the men's 800 (1:55.63), Itai Megidi in the 1,500 (14:10.74), Lior Peretz in the discus (53.06m) and Yohai Halevi in the long jump (7.50m).