Track & Field: Palli fails to reach Olympic standard

Israel's top high jumper falls short in Tel Aviv; Zvolotni sets hammer record.

Nikki Palli 224.88 klige (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Nikki Palli 224.88 klige
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Niki Palli came up 10 centimeters short in his attempt to secure his place at the Beijing Olympics at the Israeli Athletics Championships on Wednesday. The 21-year-old could only clear 2.17 meters in the high jump competition at Hadar Yosef and is running out of time in his bid to book his place in China with a jump of 2.27m. Palli, who has got until July 20 to clear the height, blamed the Hadar Yosef surface for his failure on Wednesday. "It's not comfortable to jump here. The surface is bad and I can't run on it properly. It deteriorates with every month that passes," said Palli, who at least can console himself by being crowned Israeli champion once more on Wednesday. "I've still got two more weeks to meet the criteria and I won't give up. We will arrange an invitational tournament at my home stadium in Haifa next week and hopefully I can clear the height then. "I will correct the small technical details that need correcting in my jump in the coming days and I believe everything will be alright." Also Wednesday, Evgenia Zvolotni set the only Israeli record of the day in the women's hammer competition, with a throw of 52.02m. "I felt I was ready to break the record and it was actually quite easy," Zvolotni said. "It's great to break the record and win the Israeli championships with it." In the men's triple jump Yohai Halevi improved his personal best by some 23 centimeters, winning the title with a jump of 16.19m. "I've surprised myself with my results in the triple jump," said Halevi, who is first and foremost a long jumper. "I believe I can combine both jumps, but I'm thinking of concentrating on the triple jump ahead of next season." The tightest event of the day was the women's pole vault. Olga Dugadko and Zana Berer needed a tiebreak after they both cleared 3.94m with an identical number of failures. Dugadko would, however, be crowned the winner of the event for a seventh straight year after eventually outlasting Berer in an exhausting competition. On Thursday, Alex Averbukh will continue his Olympic preparations in the pole vault. The 33-year-old, who will be competing in his third consecutive Olympics, will have plenty of competition on Thursday, including Russians Igor Pavlov (5.90 PB), Evgeny Mikhailichenko (5.80 PB) and Leonid Kivalov (5.71 PB).