Russia's Ivan Ukhov won the Olympic gold medal decisively and emerged as the top men's high jumper of 2012. Ukhov trailed surprising American Erik Kynard in the London final before surging past and eventually clearing 2.38 meters (7 feet, 9¾ inches). Kynard was a strong silver medalist after topping 2.33/7-7¾. Ukhov and Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim tied for the 2012 world lead by clearing 2.39/7-10, but Ukhov posted four of the year's top seven clearances. The Russian had to settle for bronze at the World Indoor Championships, as Dimitrios Chondrokoukis of Greece and fellow Russian Andrey Silnov took the top two medals. Robert Grabarz of Great Britain won the Diamond League title.
American Christian Taylor earned most of last year's triple jump prizes, but was almost shut out at the Olympics. Taylor fouled on his first two jumps in the final, survived on his third attempt, then won the gold with a world-leading jump measuring 17.81/58-5 in round four. Fellow American Will Claye led most of the way before settling for the silver medal, with Italy's Fabrizio Donato third. Claye gained the upper hand at the World Indoor Championships, earning the gold ahead of Taylor and Russia's Lyukman Adams. Taylor won three Diamond League meets and the overall series title.
No single man dominated long jumping in 2012, but Great Britain's Greg Rutherford came the closest. Rutherford shared the world lead with Russia's Sergey Morgunov at 8.35/27-4¾. Rutherford then took the lead in round two of the Olympic final and held on to win with a jump measuring 8.31/26-11¼, ahead of Mitchell Watt of Australia and Claye. The American became the first man since 1936 to earn Olympic medals in both the long jump and triple jump. Mauro da Silva of Brazil won an extremely tight World Indoor gold medal, as both he and Australia's Henry Frayne were credited with jumps measuring 8.23/27-0 - da Silva won because he hit the distance twice - with Russia's Alexander Menkov just one millimeter behind. Menkov won three Diamond League meets, including the final two, to earn the series championship.
Renaud Lavillenie of France captured all the biggest pole vaulting prizes last year, capped off by his come-from-behind Olympic triumph. Lavillenie trailed Germans Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe and was down to his final jump when he cleared an Olympic record 5.97/19-7 to earn the gold medal. Lavillenie also beat Otto and American Brad Walker to earn the World Indoor Championship gold, and won five Diamond League meets plus the overall title. Otto, however, posted the year's only 6-meter jump, clearing 6.01/19-8½ in September.
Read more: Check out a new profile of Russian high jump champion Anna Chicherova.