The men’s high jump title already belonged to Jeff Skiba, a paralympic athlete from Washington.
But Dan O’Brien decided Skiba could use a little help in his quest for the world record.
O’Brien, a former decathlon champion, one-time star of a series of athletic shoe commercials and master of ceremonies Saturday at the Sun Angel Track Classic, got the crowd fired up as Skiba went for a jump of 2.11 meters (a little more than 6 feet, 11 inches).
Skiba said the crowd gave him a shot of adrenaline, helping him clear the bar with room to spare and set the world paralympic record at Arizona State’s Sun Angel Stadium.
“Dan’s a great guy,’’ Skiba said. “It really helped having the crowd behind me.”
After careful measurement to certify the mark, Skiba tried 2.14 meters and missed all three attempts.
Skiba, 23, was born without a fibula in his left leg. He underwent amputation just below the knee when he was 10 months old and uses a prosthesis.
He took to track in high school and won the Washington state high school title his senior season. He has competed as an unattached athlete since high school.
Skiba won the silver medal at the 2004 Paralympics and is gearing up for the gold this summer at the Beijing Olympics. He would need a 2.20-meter leap to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
“That’s what I aspire to,’’ Skiba said. “I know I have it in me.”
Chryste Gaines also believes she has it in her, and hopes to make the Olympic Trials again. Gaines ran competitively for the first time in three years Saturday night, finishing second in the women’s invitational 100 meters, .02 seconds behind ASU’s Charonda Williams, who won in 11.60.
Gaines is already an Olympic gold medalist — for now. An effort is under way to strip her and seven others who won gold in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays in the 2000 Olympics.
Marion Jones, who has admitted to using steroids, ran on both teams.
“They have already taken us out of the record books,’’ Gaines said.
Gaines and her teammates have retained a lawyer and will go through an appeal process.
“The issue now is money,’’ she said. (USOC is no longer paying her legal fees.)
Gaines said, though, that she is trying to put the situation behind her and focus again on running.