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High jumper Woo Sang-hyeok goes for 1st world outdoor title in Hungary

Aug. 18, 2023 - 10:40 By Yonhap
South Korean high jumper Woo Sang-hyeok prepares to depart for Germany at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, in this file photo taken Aug. 4, to begin training for the World Athletics Championships. (Yonhap)

South Korean high jumper Woo Sang-hyeok will begin his quest for a historic gold medal at the world championships in Hungary this weekend.

The qualification for the men's high jump at the World Athletics Championships is set for 10:35 a.m. Sunday in Budapest, or 5:35 p.m. Sunday.

The final is scheduled for 7:58 p.m. Tuesday in the Hungarian capital, or 2:58 a.m. Wednesday.

Woo is the reigning world silver medalist, having finished behind Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar in Eugene, Oregon, last year. It was the best world championships performance by any South Korean athlete.

Woo will now try to become the first South Korean athlete to win a gold medal at an outdoor world championships and also the first to win a medal at back-to-back worlds.

He won his first career indoor world title last year. A gold medal in Budapest would make him just the sixth male high jumper to win both an indoor and an outdoor world championship.

Woo will once again have to contend with Barshim, the three-time defending champion widely regarded as the greatest active high jumper. Barshim also owns the world's top record this year at 2.36 meters.

Woo's season-best mark is 2.33m, which puts him in a three-way tie for sixth. JuVaughn Harrison of the United States has come on strong this year, with a season high of 2.35m. Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy, who shared the 2021 Olympic gold medal with Barshim, has cleared 2.34m this year.

At last year's worlds, Barshim won his third straight title at 2.37m, with Woo finishing in second place at 2.35m.

Woo has talked the big talk in the leadup to this year's event, saying he will bring home the gold medal and that he deserves to win it given how hard he has been preparing for the competition.

Woo trained in Germany earlier this month and finished second in a tuneup event there before hopping over to Hungary. (Yonhap)