Two European Championship finals in a row is an impressive feat, and observing every step along the way of this class act was pure enjoyment. Indeed, high jumper Danielle Frenkel's performance on Saturday in Paris was nothing short of a wonder:
She didn't have a single foul until the 1.92-meter mark, she set an Israeli record at 1.94 meters, assured herself a spot in the final - where she placed fourth yesterday - and qualified for this summer's World Championships.
The ability to aim, fire and hit your target at the critical moment is exceptional, especially when the barrier in front of you is mental as much, if not more, than it is physical. But when you've got it, you've got it. And Frenkel has it, and she has it in abundance.
Frenkel's best performance until two years ago was 1.81 meters. Last year she added another 11 centimeters and this year an additional two. Following this dramatic rise, one should not expect her to improve on her best in leaps and bounds. Every additional centimeter will be wrapped up in improving her technical ability and maintaining mental focus, and will depend less on strength or speed factors. The mental aspect is coach Anatoly Shafran's specialty.
Frenkel's veritable explosion began with the 2010 Israel Championships and continued through the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona. A perfect showing and smooth ride through the preliminary rounds put her in the final as she set an Israeli record last year.She did less well in the final, where she finished in 12th, but that's part of the learning curve for a rising young athlete.
Yesterday's final, where she eased through the lower heights before failing along with four others at the 1.96-meter level, was a different story. She had to forget about what she had already accomplished, and that is no given. It was not easy to put behind the excitement of the day before, but she showed impressive maturity in making a serious run for a medal.
Frenkel is endowed with fantastic jumping abilities. Her short-term goal is to reach the finals of every international competition in which she competes. The moment she consistently peaks in the internationals, she'll be primed to make another leap in her career - toward the medals podium.
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