Starc qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

·2-min read

High jumper Brandon Starc has locked in his spot on the Australian team for the Tokyo Olympics and taken down the great Mutaz Essa Barshim in a stand-out performance at the Diamond League meet in Florence.

Starc, the reigning Commonwealth champion, cleared 2.33m to finish second on countback behind Russian Ilya Ivanyuk.

Qatari superstar Barshim, the two-time defending world champion and dual Olympic medallist, was fifth with a best clearance of 2.30m.

Starc, 27, became the first Australian to match the tough Tokyo Games automatic qualifying standard of 2.33m.

"To be honest I wasn't worried about Tokyo," said Starc, who shares the Australian record of 2.36m with 1992 Olympic bronze medallist Tim Forsyth.

"I was pretty secure on the rankings so getting a qualifier wasn't a worry.

"For me it was more about jumping high and feeling like me again leading into Tokyo.

It's been an up and down season so far and I knew the heights were there.

"I just needed to work it out.

"Tonight was a battle but I'm proud of myself and and proud of the fight I put in."

In other action on Friday morning (AEST) at the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea meet, Britain's Dina Asher-Smith clocked her fastest time outside of a major championships as she powered to victory in the women's 200m.

The 25-year-old world champion laid down a strong marker ahead of the Tokyo Olympics with a time of 22.06 seconds that left her more than half a second ahead of the Ivory Coast's Marie-Josee Ta Lou.

In the men's 100m, South African Akani Simbine edged Britain's Chijindu Ujah to the line by two-hundredths of a second with a time of 10.08.

The surprise of the evening in Florence was Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen setting a European record in the men's 5000m.

The 20-year-old stormed clear in the final 200m to finish in 12:48.45, smashing his personal best by almost 14 seconds.

Australian Stewart McSweyn was 11th in 13:20.11.

Double Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic of Croatia registered a 43rd Diamond League victory in the discus, winning with her biggest throw in two years of 68.31m.

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