Athletics: Niki Palli stretches into high jump final

The 19-year-old Israeli clears 2.27 meters in the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England.

Niki Palli 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Niki Palli 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Niki Palli proved once again on Saturday that he is among Europe's elite high jumpers after qualifying for the final of the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England. The 19-year-old Israeli, who finished in sixth place at last year's European Championships, advanced to Sunday's final after clearing 2.27 meters in his third attempt. Palli, the 2006 world junior silver medalist, began the competition by passing 2.08m and 2.12m in his first attempts and 2.18m on his second try. The teenager then cleared 2.23m on his first effort, but was on the brink of missing the final before he eventually managed to jump 2.27m in his final attempt. "This is the first winter I've jumped and it's only my third indoor meeting, so I'm still getting used to the experience, but it feels good," Palli said. "I'm getting more confident with every competition and cleared a personal best indoors today." Itai Magidi finished last in the 3,000m final on Saturday, clocking a time of 8 minutes 15.82 seconds. Nevertheless, the runner can be pleased with his performance in Birmingham after becoming the first Israeli ever to reach a final at the European Indoor Championships on Friday. Magidi completed Friday's qualifying race in 7 minutes 55.42 seconds, but was unable to repeat the time in Saturday's tactical final, which was won by Italian Cosimo Caliandro in 8 minutes 2.44 seconds. The first Israeli on the track in the championships was Michael Ailin, who set a personal best by running the 60m hurdles in 8.05 seconds on Friday morning. He finished 24th out of 26 runners.