South Korean high jumping sensation Woo Sang-hyeok has moved a step closer to a spot in the major season-ending competition, thanks to a runner-up performance in his latest international event.
Woo finished second to Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar in the latest Diamond League stop at Stade Louis II in Monaco on Wednesday (local time). The two rivals, with Barshim having edged out Woo for the world title last month, needed a tiebreaking jump-off after finding themselves deadlocked at 2.30 meters.
They had all failed to clear 2.32m in three tries during regulation. Then in the jump-off, they once again couldn't jump over the bar at 2.32m.
Woo wasn't able to get himself over the bar after it was lowered to 2.30m, but Barshim succeeded in his attempt to claim the Diamond League title.
This was Woo's second Diamond League appearance of this season. In May in Doha, Woo jumped over 2.33m to beat Barshim for the gold on the Qatari's home soil.
The two jumpers clashed again at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, in July, when Barshim captured his third consecutive gold by clearing 2.37m, with Woo taking silver at 2.35m.
Woo has been making South Korean athletics history every step of the way since finishing fourth at the Tokyo Olympics last August.
Before his Diamond League breakthrough, Woo grabbed his first world indoor title in March in Belgrade, becoming the first South Korean athlete to win a world indoor gold medal in any discipline. The silver at the outdoor worlds was also a first by a South Korean.
With the runner-up showing in Monaco, Woo picked up seven points in the Diamond League standings, raising his season total to 15.
Athletes earn points based on their Diamond League performances: eight for gold, seven for silver and six for bronze, and so forth. After 12 competitions, the top six in field events will qualify for the season-ending Diamond League Final in Zurich on Sept. 7 to 8.
There have been four Diamond League stops so far that featured the men's high jump, with one more to go in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Aug. 26.
With 15 points, Woo climbed from sixth to a tie for fourth with Barshim in the standings. Django Lovett of Canada remained in first place with 19 points, after tying for fifth in Monaco. JuVaughn Harrison of the United States is in second place with 17 points, following his fourth-place finish in Monaco.
A top-five finish in Lausanne should be enough to send Woo to the Diamond League Final
The winners of each discipline at the final will be crowned Diamond League Champions and receive $30,000 in prize money, along with a spot at the next World Athletics Championships. (Yonhap)