Josko Vlasic: The Split personality who is best bar none

It is fair to say that Blanka Vlasic was always destined to put her name on the map. After all, she was named after Casablanca, the city where her father, Josko Vlasic, won the decathlon for Yugoslavia at the Mediterranean Games in September 1983.

Since June last year, Blanka has been busy playing it again and again, racking up 34 consecutive victories in the high jump. The 24-year-old Croatian has some way to go before she matches the winning streak achieved by the peerless Edwin Moses in the 400m hurdles – 122 races over nine years, nine months and nine days – but she boasts the longest current winning run at international level in track and field and will be the firmest favourite when the athletics action gets under way at the Beijing Olympics.

Vlasic won 18 of her 19 competitions in 2007, claimed the World Championships title in Osaka and raised her personal best to 2.07m. Only two women have jumped higher: Stefka Kostadinova, the Bulgarian whose world-record mark of 2.09m has stood since the 1987 World Championships in Rome; and Kajsa Bergqvist of Sweden, who cleared 2.08m indoors at Arnstadt in Germany in 2006. This year Vlasic heads the world rankings with a jump of 2.06m and has made five clearances higher than any achieved by her rivals. It is not just the impressive accomplishments, though, that have set her apart from the rest of the world. Vlasic is possibly the smoothest- ever practitioner of Dick Fosbury's Flop: a picture of composure as she prepares to jump, then elevating her long-legged 6ft 3in frame over the bar, more often than notwithout dislodging it and with apparently supreme ease.

With her distinctive facial features, she has come to be known in the British section of the press box as Miss Jones, being something of a ringer for Frances de la Tour – or Ruth Jones, the object of Leonard Rossiter's affections in 'Rising Damp'. To a wider audience, Miss Vlasic has become renowned for the classic pose she strikes (left) and celebratory wiggle she performs in the immediate aftermath of particularly satisfying clearances – most notably on the global stage, when she sailed over 2.05m to secure the world title last August. "I feel good celebrating like this," she said. "It's good for a change not to have cramp on your face."

It is also pretty good that the celebrated Split personality has Fosbury as a paid-up admirer. Vlasic has made 36 attempts to clear 2.10m but Fosbury expects her to break the world record. "It would be helpful if she had some competition to push her," he said. "That's what worked with me. But I'm very hopeful she'll set a new standard for the women. She's very impressive. I met her in Monaco at an athletics gala. What a nice person! What a great athlete!"

Indeed. But great athletes, great favourites for gold, have failed to find their Midas touch in the Olympic arena before. Think Ron Clarke, Jim Ryun, David Bedford, Colin Jackson, Paula Radcliffe. "Don't think I'm relaxed because I have won 34 competitions in a row," Vlasic said, as she looked ahead to her date with destiny in Beijing. "I'm very much aware that I'm not unbeatable and if I lose my concentration I can be beaten."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering