Track and Field: High jumper Palli aims to qualify for Olympics tonight at Nationals

21-year-old needs to clear 2.27m to make it to Beijing this summer.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Niki Palli will be at the center of the first day of the Israeli Athletics Championships at Hadar Yosef in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. The 21-year-old must clear 2.27 meters in the high jump competition or face the danger of being left out of Israel's delegation for the Beijing Olympics. "I started the season quite well, jumping 2.25m several times, and I never thought my Olympic berth would be under threat in the summer," said Palli, who has to prove his form this week due to the fact that he met the criteria for the Games in 2007 and not this year. "I kept raising the bar to 2.30m and not 2.27m at the start of the year and now I'm under pressure. "My preparations for the summer season went well, but I was injured at a crucial moment and have been struggling since. My leg still hurts me slightly, but it's troubling me mentally more than it is physically. "I hope I feel more confident in the championships and jump 2.27m. "There's no reason why I shouldn't be able to do so. I'm relaxed and I'm not putting myself under any pressure despite the fact that I haven't got many more chances to meet the criteria." Palli's form in recent months has been mediocre to say the least, with the 2.30m personal best jumper only clearing 2.10m in his most recent competition at the European Cup in Bystrica, Slovakia, 10 days ago. To help Palli scale the heights he's required the Israeli Athletics Association has brought as competition Russian Andrey Tereshin, who has a personal best of 2.36m. The high jump competition will also give Israeli athletics fans a chance to see the boy who is tipped to become the country's next jumping star. Fifteen -year-old Dima Kroytor has already cleared 2.12m in the high jump, breaking the under-18 Israeli record. Wednesday will also see one of the most hotly contested events at the Israeli championships, the women's discus throw. Israeli record holder, 23-year-old Sivan Jan, has dominated the competition in recent years, but 24-year-old Sivan Aballi is breathing down her neck, and is looking to finally dethrone the throwing queen in both the discus and the shot put on Thursday. The women's high jump competition will be one of the highlights of the second day on Thursday, with Ma'ayan Forman looking to break the Israeli record of 1.87m. The 21-year-old set a new personal best of 1.85m at the European Cup in Slovakia and will be competing against Russian Tatiana Grigorieva, who has a personal best of 1.96m. "I surprised everyone last year when I cleared 1.80m at the championships," Forman said. "I got this season off to a good start and I'm in good shape now. I think I can clear 1.88m." Also Thursday, pole vaulter Alex Averbukh will continue his Olympic preparations. The 33-year-old, who will be competing in his third consecutive Olympics, cleared 5.55 meters with his first attempt at a special invitational at Hadar Yosef last Friday to secure his place at the Games and will have plenty of competition on Thursday. Russians Igor Pavlov (5.90 PB), Evgeny Mikhailichenko (5.80 PB) and Leonid Kivalov (5.71 PB) will push Averbukh all the way and will ensure the fans see a high quality contest.