High jump, when height does not matter: records in differential

How many times did we hear people calling high jumped ”the good Giants”?! If we take into considerations the 196 athletes (unfortunately it was not possible to gather all the ahtletes’ heights) able to go past the 2.31 meters in outdoor competitions, we’ll find out that their average hight is 1.95, roughly 20cm higher of the world average which is estimated to be 1.74m.

It is commonly thought that, the higher one is, the easier it is to jump, but not always tall jumpers can obtain differentials achieved by shorter jumpers, who are able to take advantage of other qualities.

By differential, we mean the difference between the jumped height and the athlete’s one.

The World record-holder is Javier Sotomayor who was able to go 50cm past his head (his record is 2.45m with him being 1.95m tall).

The differential record holder is the “small” Stefan Holm. This athlete, 1.81m tall, was able to hump 2.40m, 59 centimeters above his head. His stature could have been a handicap, but the Swede has “fixed” it with a rapid and dynamic skill who brought him to win one Olympicgame, 4 indoor World Championships and 2 indoor European Championships (apart from a great number of medals) beating athletes well taller than him (and so, hypothetically in advantage).

Lowest PB, lowest height, but same differential for Franklin Jacobs. The American, 1.73m tall, scored what was at that time the indoor World Record with 2.32 (59cm above his head) in 1978. His World record was beaten two months later by Vladimir Yashenko. Jacobs was the American candidate for the 1980 Olympic Games, but the USA sabotage prevedented him from participating. He tried to go past “trials” entering a college, but he failed. For him, 8 national titles, and the consolation of the ex-aequo record of differential with 59cm.

Among the athletes analyzed the “worst” is the American Charles Clinger. For him, a fantastic personal record of 2.53, but a differential of “only” 29 centimeters above his hieght (2.06m).

For women, the record belongs to Antonietta di Martino. The athlete from Campania, 1.68m tall, beats the competition with his personal (and Italian) record of 2.04m, with a differential of 36 centimeters.

Inika McPherson came close to beat the Azzurra. 1.65m tall she was able to rise up to 2 meters last year, achieving a differential of 35 cm.

The athletes with most titles do not even come close to the result obtained by Antonietta: Blanka Vlasic has a differential of only 15 cm (pb:2.08 – height:1.93), Anna Cicherova surpasses herself of 27 cm (pb:2.07 – height:1.80), the World record holder Stefka Kostadinova has a differential of 29cm (pb:2.09 – height:1.80), the indoor world record holder Kajsa Bergqvist was able to achieve a differential of 33cm (pb:2.08i – height: 1.75).

In the picture: Stefan Holm (Michael Steele/Getty Images Sport)

1 thought on “High jump, when height does not matter: records in differential

  1. On the women’s side there is also Cindy John-Holmes from the University of Arizona who in 1983 at the NCAA Outdoor track and field championship heptathlon at BYU jumped 1.83m while standing only 1.52m tall.

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