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A True High Jump Inspiration

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One of the true greats in the High JumpSince November is traditionally one of the quietest months in the athletics calendar, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back and remember the career of one of the sport's great heroes from the past ten years - Stefan Holm.

Holm, now 35, was simply one of the most consistent and inspirational High Jumpers from 2000 until he announced his retirement after the 2008 season. He was a legend in his native Sweden and has the distinction of sharing the unofficial World Record of height jumped above his own height (59cm). At just under 6-feet tall (1.81m), Holm was not a typical build for the High Jump however he made up for this with a fast, attacking approach and incredible lift at take-off, combined with faultless technique. He was famous for adopting a pre-jump ritual that he conducted immediately before setting off on each attempt, which included adjusting his vest, wiping his face and putting his hand through his hair - it became his trademark.

One of the most remarkable training sessions Holm undertook was hurdling over homemade barriers that scaled around 1.85m - this clip on YouTube has now been viewed over 1.3 million times. See the video here

Holm's first taste of Olympic action came in 2000, when he finished a creditable 4th with a best clearance of 2.32m in Sydney. Less than a year later and he became World Indoor Champion in Lisbon - a title he would go on to win a further three times (2003, 2004 and 2008). Indeed, his lifetime best of 2.40m was set indoors when Holm won the 2005 European Indoor Champs in Madrid. Only Ivan Ukhov has also cleared 2.40m indoors since Javier Sotomayor's 2.43m World Indoor Record (set in 1989). His outdoor best was 2.37m.

The most significant achievement of Holm's career came in 2004 at the Athens Olympics - he went clear at 2.36m to take gold and realise his childhood dream. At the Beijing Games of 2008 Holm finished agonisingly in 4th position with a best of 2.32m, representing an exact copy of his performance in 2000. In total, Holm won an impressive 11 medals at major championships, including seven golds.

Stefan Holm really did enjoy a superb decade as one of the leading lights in the men's High Jump and his achievements were all the more astonishing taking into account his diminutive stature among fellow jumpers.

Thank you, Stefan, for entertaining the athletics world and adding such a great deal to your chosen discipline... and I still believe you should be recognised as the best jumper of all-time given your height!

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  1. Matthew Cordy

    A true legend indeed!!!

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