Nikki Palli wins high jump silver at World Juniors

Clears 2.29 meters at first attempt; narrowly beaten by Chinese jumper Haiqiang Huang.

nikki palli 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press)
nikki palli 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Israel's Niki Palli reached the pinnacle of his fledgling career on Thursday, winning the high jump silver medal at the World Junior Championships in Beijing. Palli, 19, was on the brink of winning the gold medal after clearing 2.29 meters at his first attempt. But Chinese jumper Haiqiang Huang passed 2.32m on his last attempt and finished first. The Israeli, whose career best is 2.30m, couldn't match Huang and failed three times at 2.32m. "The competition went very well. I jumped a centimeter under my record and that's a great result," Palli said after getting the silver medal. "Even so, things could have gone better and I will try and improve next year." For years Palli has been earmarked as the future of Israeli athletics and the last 10 days have finally seen him fulfill a small part of his huge potential. Last week Palli finished sixth at the senior European Championships in Sweden after jumping 2.28m and has now complemented that with a silver medal in China. The Israeli began the competition at the height of 2.10m, which he cleared with ease at his first attempt. The teenager continued to pass the bar at the first time of asking and cleared the next heights of 2.15m and 2.19m with ease. Palli's first failure came at 2.23m, but his second jump cleared the bar and put him in first place. Palli was the only jumper to clear 2.26m and 2.29m on his first attempts and seemed to be on the way to a gold medal. Huang failed twice at 2.32m but in a remarkable third and final attempt cleared the bar and won the gold medal, much to the pleasure of the local support. "I was very surprised that Huang passed 2.32m," Palli said. "His first two attempts weren't good but he surprised everybody in his third."