Russia's Ivan Ukhov wins gold at the 2011 European Indoor Championships.
Ivan Ukhov's dominance of the high jump this season continued as he won gold at the European Indoor Championships in Paris.
Despite an early wobble, Ukhov overcame the European outdoor champion and fellow Russian, Alexandr Shustov, to retain his title with a world-leading jump of 2.38m.
Jaroslav Baba, from the Czech Republic, who looked sharpest at the start of the competition, finished second.
Ukhov narrowly missed out on breaking Javier Sotomayor's 2.43m world indoor record, admitting he was more focused on winning the event.
"I'm very happy I was able to defend my title," Ukhov said.
IVAN UKHOV - THE FACTS
Region: Chelyabinsk, Russia
Discipline: High jump
Personal bests: 2.36m (outdoors) and 2.40m (indoors)
Career highlights: Gold at 2010 World Indoor Championships in Doha
"I know I'm in world record shape this season and I wanted to break it. However, there were way too many attempts in the competition and I did not spare enough energy."
In typically relaxed form, Ivan entered the competition at 2.20m and proceeded to jump with his tracksuit bottoms still on.
At 2.29m he made his first mistake but after removing the tracksuit bottoms, Ivan went on to clear 2.38m, beating Baba's best jump of 2.34m.
Ukhov's defence of the European indoor title he won in Turin in 2009 caps a strong start to the season.
On his season debut, Ukhov very nearly broke Javier Sotomayor world indoor record of 2.43m with the Cuban standing behind him watching. He has now attempted 2.44m on three occasions this season.
The Russian is undefeated in the winter indoor season, winning seven out of seven competitions in the Czech Republic, Russia, Germany and Slovakia.
His successes were acknowledged by
who named him European athlete of the month for January with Britain's Jessica Ennis.
Ukhov will now look to take his indoor supremacy outdoors and challenge the likes of compatriot Alexandr Shustov at a number of Diamond League meetings and ultimately at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in August.