Daegu: Her entire outlook changed since becoming a mother, Anna Chicherova of Russia won the high jump gold medal Saturday at the world championships.
She cleared 6 feet, 8 inches to beat two-time defending champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia. Vlasic took the silver, going the same height but needing more jumps. Antonietta Di Martino of Italy won the bronze at 6-6¾.
The 29-year-old Chicherova gave birth to a girl last year.
"I had big motivation after my baby was born. It changed my thinking," she said. "I feel free. I`m free deep inside. I don`t have any bad things in my head. I`m really happy for everything. I understand that she is my big win in my life."
Vlasic had been the favorite until a partial muscle tear in her left leg nearly forced her to withdraw. But she said she could not bear watching the worlds on television.
Even before Vlasic decided to compete, Chicherova emerged as her greatest threat when she jumped 6-9½ in July — equaling the third highest jump of all time. Vlasic has the second best with a jump of 6-9¾.
"I think I did good under the circumstances. It was hard and I`m just happy I came," Vlasic said. "I didn`t make it easy on them. I`m hurting now, of course. But when the adrenaline is there, you forget it. You forget about the pain."
Chicherova said she felt her qualification had gone fine but was inspired after Russian teammate Maria Abakumova won gold in the javelin. She visited her and had a good look at the gold medal.
"She was fighting," Chicherova said. "That gave me a lot of power and motivation for today`s competition."
Chicherova was nearly flawless Saturday, clearing every jump until the final height of 6-8¾. Vlasic missed once at 6-6¾ and once at 6-8.
"There is nothing to say," Di Martino said. "She was perfect. She demonstrated she was the absolute No. 1."
That wasn`t the case in the past. Chicherova finished second at the 2009 worlds in Berlin and third at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"I was trying for the first place. I dreamt about a gold medal today," Chicherova said. "I have a bronze and silver but haven`t had the gold medal. ... Today I did it."