By Bob Ramsak
SPLIT, Croatia, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Croatia's world champion Blanka Vlasic earned her 20th consecutive victory on Wednesday at the second edition of the Slobodna Dalmacija Women's High Jump Meeting in her hometown of Split.
Despite a nagging hip pain that has dogged her for more than a week, the 24-year-old, who won the world title in Japan last August, jumped 2.01 metres, setting a meet record at a venue just a few hundred metres from her Dalmatian coast home.
"Earlier in the day I was asking myself if I could even jump today," said Vlasic. "I had a couple of good jumps, but it's difficult to jump in this condition."
A 6,000 capacity crowd packed Split's Gripe Auditorium, which hosts the largest competition on the increasingly popular high jump circuit, a series of one-event competitions.
After sealing the win, Vlasic failed in three attempts at 2.05, a mark that would have added a centimetre to her world leading 2.04 set eight days ago in Bansak Bystrica, Slovakia.
Despite her injury, Vlasic will be a strong favourite to win her first world indoor title at the championships in Valencia, Spain next month and gold at the Olympic Games in August.
Blanka Vlašić celebrating her victory in Sweden 2007.DOMINANT VLASIC
A former twice world junior champion, Vlasic has dominated the event since her last defeat in June at the Bislett Games, the Oslo meet that starts the IAAF Golden League season.
Vlasic finished second, a loss that ultimately cost her a $333,333 share of the $1 million Golden League Jackpot.
Her streak is now the third longest in the sport behind twice world 3,000 metres steeplechase champion Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar, who has won 25 consecutive competitions, and Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, whose run is 22.
Vlasic has cleared two metres or higher in all but one of those 20 competitions the exception being at a rain-drenched World Athletics Tour meet in Zagreb on July 4 last year.
Vlasic aims to give herself ample time to recover from her hip problem and will not compete again this season before the world indoor championships scheduled for March 7-9.
Vita Palamar of Ukraine was second on Wednesday after a 1.98 clearance followed by Anna Chicherova of Russia, the silver medallist at last year's world championships, with 1.95.