Maria Lasitskene is looking forward to the opportunity of being one of the first athletes to compete at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in March as the spotlight shines on the high jump for the first evening of competition.

The 24-year-old retained her world title in London in a summer which also saw her claim the overall Diamond League series title, clear a PB of 2.06m to move to joint fifth on the world all-time list and extend her unbeaten streak to 27 finals. But rather than spend time reminiscing on what she has achieved, the Russian has already switched her focus to 2018.

“I know the high jumpers are the first athletes who will compete in Birmingham. It means that we’ll set the pace for the whole tournament,” she says, with the first session of World Indoors action on March 1 featuring both high jump finals and the women’s 3000m. “I think it’s a great idea to make one more night session for us. I’m sure we won’t let anyone down!

“I’m not the one who will defend the title there, because I missed Portland 2016, so no pressure for me,” adds the 2014 world indoor champion, who was unable to compete at last year’s global event due to the suspension of Russia. “Of course I will try to win, like at any other tournament.”

Reflecting on this year, she explains: “The first part of 2017 was really tough. I jumped 2.03m in February but had to miss the European Indoors in Belgrade, because my application to compete as a neutral athlete until Russia is reinstated was only accepted in April.

Maria Lasitskene [London 2017] - PHOTO by Mark Shearman
Maria Lasitskene [London 2017] – PHOTO by Mark Shearman
“After that, everything went well, but I can’t say I’m still thinking about summer 2017. It was great but it’s over now, I prefer to think about the future.

“I’m looking forward to the next year, I’m sure it will be thrilling. I know nothing about the result that I should expect and I just want to jump with the best opponents and try my best.”

Given her form, breaking the world record of 2.09m set by Bulgaria’s Stefka Kostadinova 30 years ago must remain an aim? “From 2.06m to 2.10m is a really long way, that’s why I’m not thinking about that,” says Lasitskene, who attempted the would-be world record height during the summer.

“I want to enjoy what I’m doing and I don’t need more pressure on my shoulders.

“I’m glad that during the last season my body felt what it is to jump 2.10m, I liked that feeling, and of course I will try to do it again and again. But I don’t want to think about that too much. All these thoughts will never help me. Good preparation is the only thing that can help.”

Lasitskene recently returned to training in Greece after a month break and in November will be back in her home town of Prokhladny to begin technical training with her coach, Gennadiy Gabrilyan.

Outside of athletics, she enjoys reading and visiting the theatre, musicals, movies, and concerts. “And of course I like to sleep,” she adds. “A lot! I’m not sure that I’m a morning person.”

Source: Jessica Whittington| AW