Only a week after his disastrous performance at the Israel Athletics Championship at which he failed to clear at 5.45 meters, European Champion Alex Averbuch set a personal best of 5.93 late Saturday night at the Madrid Grand Prix.

At Hadar Yosef the wind was against Averbuch and he was carrying a mild injury from the Golden League meet in Rome a week earlier. But on Saturday, conditions were perfect and Averbuch cleared at his first attempt at 5.53 and then at 5.73. "The pace was good and only forty minutes passed between my first two jumps and I felt excellent," Averbuch said yesterday.

Averbuch then cleared at 5.83 on his third attempt and after watching Nick Hysong and Romain Mesnil fail at 5.88, Averbuch, after having already won the competition, went for 5.93. The European champion cleared at the third attempt to set the best result of the year, one centimeter higher than the 5.92 set by Mesnil only a week ago.

The result was an improvement of two centimeters on Averbuch's previous Israeli record set in August 2001 in Gateshead. That was shortly after the World Championship in Edmonton at which he finished second. This time, his new record comes ahead of the World Championship in Paris and Averbuch has another two competitions before he attempts to go one better than in Edmonton.

After the disappointment of the Israeli championship, Averbuch's former colleague Dani Krasnov said he expected Averbuch to continue improving and that after his bronze medal in Seville and the silver at Edmonton and his gold medal at last year's European Championship, he would take gold again this year.

Averbuch, who is currently ranked number one in the world, is already looking to set a new Israeli record and to clear the six-meter mark. "The fact that I cleared at 5.93 doesn't surprise me because my coach Valery Kogan and I have been preparing for it. I also think clearing six meters is a realistic target. I have already cleared at 5.93 and the gap is only seven centimeters, just a little bit more than a match box."