The focus of attention in the women’s high jump at the Jerusalem 2022 European Athletics U18 Championships will be on the up-and-coming Serbian star Angelina Topic.
Topic has a captivating backstory with both of her parents winning world and European medals in their careers but the 16-year-old is forging her own path.
In her last competition before the European Athletics U18 Championships, Topic equalled the world U18 best of 1.96m at the Serbian Championships - also an outright national record - but the Serbian is focusing firstly on capturing gold in the Givat Ram Stadium. Any prospective record attempt will come later.
“Well, I think I’m in great form right now. I think I know what I am capable of and of course I am going to give it my best in the competition. I think it’s more important to focus on position than height so one of my biggest goals is to jump 1.90m and show what I’m capable of,” said Topic to the assorted press.
Compared to the vast majority of competitors, Topic already has a wealth of experience to draw on. She reached the final at the European Athletics U20 Championships in Tallinn last year a few days before her 16th birthday and she even had the chance to compete for Serbia in front of 7000 fans at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade this March.
And while she will “probably compete” against the senior on an even greater stage at the Munich 2022 European Athletics Championships as well, Topic still describes this upcoming competition, which could very possibly yield her first major title, as “meaningful.”
She said: “It’s obviously an amazing feeling being here. This competition is very meaningful to me personally and I am happy I have the chance to represent my country. It’s really an honour to be here in Israel and stand with my Serbian team.”
Angelina will be accompanied in Jerusalem by her father and coach Dragutin, the 1990 European champion who scaled 2.37m in his career which spanned six Olympic Games.
But the sporting genes run through both sides of the family. Her mother Biljana won triple jump bronze at the 2009 World Athletics Championships, an event Angelina has also tried out this summer alongside the high jump.
“I have competed in triple jump this year and actually I’m really hoping to compete a bit more in the triple jump as well as in high jump. But for now I think the high jump is representing my future,” said Topic.
One of the brightest Israeli prospects at the championships is pole vaulter Sivan Frumer who has improved her lifetime best to 3.90m this season.
“It’s really exciting to be here. It’s a big mission for me to represent Israel. I’ve trained hard for the event and it’s exciting because this is the first time a major event has been held in Israel.
“I would really like to jump the best I can and give everything to the event. I hope to reach the final and vault as high as I possibly can,” she said.
Arguably Israel’s greatest athlete in history is Alexander Averbukh, the 2002 and 2006 European pole vault champion, and Frumer hopes that his impact could inspire her to another chapter in the history of Israeli athletics.
“I appreciate his professionalism; I look up to him and he is an inspiration to me. Yes, I’ve met him on quite a few occasions and you could maybe say we are also friends,” she said.
The European Athletics U18 Championships will be streamed live through the European Athletics website from 8.05am local time (GMT+3) on Monday (4) morning.