By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, May 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korean high jumper Woo Sang-hyeok has added another international title to his expanding resume, winning an elite, invitational competition over some of the world's best despite blustery conditions.
Woo cleared 2.33 meters to take the men's high jump title in the first leg of the Diamond League at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Friday (local time).
Inaugurated in 2010, the Diamond League is an annual series of top-tier, one-day competitions organized by the World Athletics, the international track and field governing body. Woo is the first South Korean to win a Diamond League title in any discipline.
Woo's winning height of 2.33m is also the world-leading mark for 2022. Woo broke his own season-best record of 2.32.
In March, Woo won the world indoor championship with 2.36m.
Woo beat out Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, the co-gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympics, by 3 centimeters. Django Lovett of Canada took the bronze at 2.27m.
Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy, who shared the gold with Barshim in Tokyo last year, finished a distant seventh at 2.20m.
The wind blew so hard in Doha that men's pole vault had to be rescheduled. The high jump event was delayed by 20 minutes.
Woo jumped 2.20m on his first try but struggled with the bar set at 2.24m before clearing it on his third attempt.
Woo then jumped over 2.27m in two attempts, and then the South Korean star found his groove.
He cleared 2.30m in just one attempt. Barshim was the only other to jump that high. Woo threw down the gauntlet by jumping over 2.33m, again on his first try.
Barshim couldn't match that feat after one attempt but went right for 2.35m, only to fail twice to knock himself out of the title contention.
With the gold medal clinched, Woo took two failed cracks at 2.35m and went for 2.37m, which would have been a new South Korean record by 2 centimeters.
Woo couldn't clear that either, but the title in the first Diamond League of the season was his.
Woo's rise to international prominence began at the Tokyo Olympics, where he placed fourth with a then national record height of 2.35m. It was the highest placement by a South Korean track and field athlete in Olympic history.
Then came the world indoor title in Serbia in March. Woo also dominated following domestic competitions.
Woo picked up US$10,000 in prize money and eight Diamond League points.
The next Diamond League stop will be in Birmingham, England, next Saturday.
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