Mixed emotions for stars on day one

Schwartz, Halevi crowned national champions but fail to qualify for Olympics.

JILLIAN SCHWARTZ 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
The first day of the 75th Israeli Athletics Championships was a frustrating one for local athletes.
Pole vaulter Jillian Schwartz had hoped to clear 4.50 meters at Hadar Yosef Stadium in Tel Aviv on Wednesday to meet the Olympic criteria for the 2012 London Games.
However, the 31-year-old, who made aliya from the US in 2009 and has a personal best of 4.72m, could only jump 4.23m, failing three times at 4.34m.
“It was just a bad day really,” said Schwartz, who has already cleared 4.50m earlier this season and is confident of doing so once more and setting the Olympic criteria at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, which get underway on August 27.
“I’m working on a new shorter runup and I think I need more training with the timing of the run.
“I spoke to Alex Averbukh a bit and he is helping me. I still have seven weeks until the World Championships and I believe it will be okay by then. I can definitely do 4.50m with the long approach but I want to try and do it with the short one.”
There was also mild disappointment for Yochai Halevi, who was crowned triple jump national champion yet again and improved his career-best by a single centimeter to 16.77m, but couldn’t leap the 16.85m he required to qualify for the upcoming worlds.
“I’m moving in the right direction, and all in all this was one of my best competitions ever. So I really can’t say that I’m disappointed,” Halevi said. “I hope I can book my place in the worlds in the upcoming events.”
The high jump battle between teenager Dima Kroyter and Niki Palli never materialized on Wednesday, with neither athlete coming anywhere near to his best.
Kroyter, who set a personal best of 2.28m earlier this year to qualify for the World Championships, could only clear 2.16m before failing three times at 2.22m.
Palli, who has a personal best of 2.30m, still seems to be far from fully recovering from the injuries that have dogged his career in the past couple of years, failing to clear 2.13m.
Wednesday’s action came to an end with the 100m finals for the men and women, with Asaf Malka and Olga Lansky defending their titles from last year.
Malka equaled his career best of 10.59s and is hoping to complete the sprint double on Thursday.
“The runner that wanted the win most was the one who won,” said Malka after edging Dmitri Gluschenko at the line. “I’m happy to defend my title and I hope to win the 200m as well.”
With her 40-year-old mother Irina Lansky unable to win yet another title in the 100m hurdles due to injury, Olga ensured the Lansky family had a reason to celebrate, winning the 100m dash for a second straight year in a time of 11.91s.
“I’m slightly disappointed with my time but I hope to improve on it at the upcoming European junior Championships,” said Lansky, who has her sights set on Esther Roth- Shachamarov’s ancient junior 100m record of 11.78s.
The championships, which are open to the public free of charge, will continue on Thursday, with the highlight of the day expected to be the women’s high jump final and the battle between sensation Danielle Frenkel and main challenger Ma’ayan Foreman.