(photo credit: AP)
Alex Averbukh pulled out of the Israeli Athletics Championships pole vault competition just minutes before the event got underway at Hadar Yosef on Thursday night.
The 33-year-old, who will compete in his third Olympics at Beijing this summer, was supposed to be the star attraction of the championships, but a standard injection he received earlier in the day had an unexpected side effect and he chose to pull out after not feeling 100 percent during his warm-up.
Averbukh's injury is not serious, but with the Olympics just five weeks he understandably decided not to take any risks by jumping at the Israeli championships.
Thursday was a depressing day all around for Israeli athletics.
In the women's 100m hurdles favorite Irina Lansky pulled up injured midway through the race and had to be stretchered off the track.
Lansky had hoped to finish the race in less than 12.96 seconds to qualify for the Olympics, but instead ended it crying in pain and was taken immediately to hospital.
Long jump champion, Rotem Batat won the race in a personal best time of 13.98s.
"I've been focusing on the long jump and this is just the second time this year I've run the 100m hurdles," Batat said.
"I felt so bad when I saw Lansky fall. We really ran this race for Lansky to help her meet the criteria."
Rita Pogarelov claimed the sprint double for a second straight year, winning the 200m race on Thursday in a time of 24.78s, with Irina Lansky's daughter Olga finishing in second position.
"I'm really disappointed with my time," Pogarelov said. "I was sure I would break the 200m record."
Michael Ayalin, who won the 110m hurdles on Wednesday, defended his title in the men's 200m, crossing the line after 21.54s.
The women's high jump competition was one of the events in which the organizers had hoped an Israeli record would fall, but Ma'ayan Forman struggled on the Hadar Yosef surface and could only clear 1.78m on her way to the title.
"I feel really bad about the result," said Forman, who has a personal best of 1.85m and hoped to break the Israeli record of 1.87m. "I thought I could do better, but the weather wasn't ideal and the surface is terrible. My goal remains to break the Israeli record by the end of the season."