Six foot four Croatian high jumper Blanka Vlasic is one of high jump’s most charismatic characters. Named after the city of Casablanca, where her father, Josko (also her coach), won the decathlon gold in the 1983 Mediterranean Games around the time of her birth, Blanka is second in the all time high jump rankings behind the Bulgarian great Stefka Kostadinova.
Unfortunately, illness and injuries have plagued her career, but in spite of this she has fashioned an impressive record since competing in her first Olympic Games in Sydney (2000) at the age of 16. She has won gold twice at both the World and the World Indoor Championships and narrowly missed the Olympic title in Beijin, winning the silver. In 2010 she was named IAAF World Athlete of the Year. She missed the London Olympics in 2012 due to complications after an achilles tendon operation, but is now back competing, beginning with the Gothenburg Meet last Saturday. Blanka signed my sketch at her home club in Split in September 2012.