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Athletics: Japan's Tobe sets sight on world title after indoor triumph

Naoto Tobe of Japan wins the men's high jump by clearing the bar at 2.34 meters in the final event of the World Indoor Tour season in Dusseldorf, Germany, on Feb. 20, 2019. (Kyodo)

DUSSELDORF, Germany (Kyodo) -- Japanese high jumper Naoto Tobe capped off a breakthrough IAAF World Indoor Tour with victory in the sixth and final meeting in Dusseldorf on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old jumped 2.34 meters for his third straight victory on the month-long tour. The jump was just a centimeter short of the Japanese record he set earlier in the month.

The Asian Games bronze medalist, who stands 1.9 meters, broke the 13-year-old national mark at the second round of the indoor tour in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Feb. 2.

Tobe, who kept his cool at Dusseldorf's Arena-Sportpark after twice failing at 2.20, said he was targeting even loftier goals.

"I jumped 2.34 without being in my best condition, so I now have the high 30s or the 40s in my sights," he said. "I'm in a position where I can realistically aim to win a world championship medal or world title."

Tobe said he had seen an improvement in his jumps after shortening his run-up to six steps.

"It's easier to stay consistent with a smaller number of steps," he said, adding he occasionally had problems with the timing of his previous technique.

Tobe will compete at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha in April, after which he will turn his attention to the IAAF World Championships, also to be held in the Qatari capital, starting in September.

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