Palli wins high jump at last Israeli meet before European championships

The 19-year old high jumper, who has already met the minimum criteria for the 2008 Olympics, topped 2.25 meters.

high jump 88 (photo credit: )
high jump 88
(photo credit: )
Niki Palli is ready to go against Europe's best and he proved it again on Sunday night. The 19-year old high jumper, who has already met the minimum criteria for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and owns one of the best marks in the world this year, topped 2.25 meters to win the high jump at the Tel Aviv Grand Prix at Hadar Yosef on Sunday in his final tune-up before next month's European championships in Sweden. Competing for the third time in less than two weeks, the Israeli junior-record holder took three attempts at 2.32m, a height that would've raised his own record by two centimeters. After hitting the bar with his shoulders on his first two attempts, the Israel Athletics Association Male Athlete of the Year looked like he would clear the bar on his third try before he clipped it with his lower body. "I had little technical problems; these are things that I can improve," he said. It was almost two weeks to the day since he bettered his own national junior mark at the same Hadar Yosef high jump pit at the Israel Track and Field Championships. Unlike the more electric atmosphere of the national championships, Sunday's meet lacked the excitement that often pushes athletes an extra centimeter. Now, he will spend the next two weeks preparing for the European championships, which will take place in Goteborg, Sweden, and the world junior championships the following week in Beijing. The Olympic Committee of Israel announced Sunday that it would put Palli up in a Tel Aviv hotel until he leaves for Sweden. The Haifa-based athlete has been unable to train at a regular schedule at home due to the security situation. Yulia Pushkarov cleared 1.72m to win the women's version of the event. In other events, national champion Sivan Jean dominated the throwing disciplines, winning the shot put (14.97m) and discus throw (55.11m). Her discus result was 1.05m short of her national mark and represented the second best Israeli throw of all time. In the men's shot put, Shai Shalev's launch of 16.37m beat Shahar Mozer by seven centimeters. For the second meet in a row, Tal Mor captured the 100-meter dash (10.77), while Irina Lenskiy took the women's (11.98). In the men's long jump, Yochai Halevi registered the best mark by any Israeli this year with 7.60m. Olga Dogadko took the women's event with her jump of 5.85m. Dogadko, also the Israeli record holder in the pole vault, won that event as well with a 3.83m effort. In the middle distance events, Ezra Mekonen won the men's 1500 after pulling away from the field midway through the race (3:56.30) and Irina Weingarten took the women's 800 in 2:11.84 after taking the lead 200 meters from the finish. Yuriy Shapsai won the men's 400 in 48.60 and Liat Anav took the women's in 57.17.