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Režková marks Olympic debut with high jump gold

17 Oct 1968
Mexico 1968, BALAS, Iolanda, Athletics, Romania
The women's High Jump had been won in 1960 and 1964 by the dominant Iolanda Balas, from Romania, but her era had finished.

Balas had set 14 world records over the previous decade and won 150 consecutive competitions, and in her absence it was hard to decided the favourite.

Most people predicted victory for one of the Soviet jumpers; few had drawn much attention to a teenager from Czechoslovakia. She was about to change all that.
Miloslava Režková was just 18 years old, but her improvement was startling. Since the beginning of the season, she had improved her own personal best by about 15cm and came into these Games in by far the best form of her young life.

By the time the bar reached 1.76m, there were only eight athletes left – three Czechs, two Soviet jumpers, two East Germans and one from Austria. Five cleared first time, two on the second attempt, one passed, and so the bar moved up to 1.78m, at which point two athletes were eliminated.

Three more failed at 1.80m, leaving Režková, who cleared that height at her first attempt, guaranteed a medal. Now she was up against two women from the USSR, Antonina Okorokova and Valentyn Kozyr, also competing in their first Olympics. But Režková also found that the crowd was supporting her enthusiastically.
All three athletes failed with their first attempt. The failed again at their second, with Okorokova guaranteed gold if nobody succeeded third time round. Instead, Režková soared over, clearing a bar that was 12cm higher than she was.

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