Renaud Lavillenie after his 5.97m world lead in Helsinki (Getty Images) © Copyright
In fabulous duel, Lavillenie prevails
Lavillenie won a memorable Pole Vault – after an opening failure at 5.60m - with a world leading 5.97m, pushed all the way by 34-year-old German, Björn Otto who cleared a personal best 5.92m. Germans filled the next two places, Ralph Holzdeppe taking bronze (5.77m) and Malte Mohr fourth.
"I wasn’t expecting to jump so high," admitted Lavillenie. "It was very long, it was very hard for me.
"It was difficult at the beginning, but I felt better and better during the competition. A lot of jumps were into a head-wind and that is not good for us."
Shubenkov's rise continues
In the sprint hurdles, Sergey Shubenkov of Russia delivered two quality displays of hurdling. In his semi, he set a national record of 13.09 into a 1.1mps headwind and in the final set another fine time of 13.16 (+0.5w). That semi-final time places the young Russian equal sixth on the world lists.
"I won the U23 last year and now I am senior champion, so it is my first serious senior title," said Shubenkov.
"I got a bit tired after the semis which is why the time was slower in the final. The procedure is a bit long sitting in call rooms. Also, the reason I did not improve on my semi-final time was because I kept clashing hands with the guy next to me."
Silver went to France’s Garfield Darien (13.20, 13.15PB s/f) and bronze to Poland’s Artur Noga in a national record equalling 13.27.
The 1500m was both dawdle and disaster as the race was won in the slowest time for 62 years by Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen in 3:46.20 while local hero and gold medal favourite, Niclas Sandells, was first pushed then tripped by Turkey’s Ilham Tanui Özbilen. Özbilen was initially disqualified then reinstated on appeal to officially finish fifth.
Silver went to France’s young hope, Florian Carvalho and bronze was for Spain’s David Bustos.
Favourite Sebastian Bayer of Germany duly took Long Jump gold, but he did it the hard way after two no-jumps in the first two rounds.
Staring elimination in the face, he hit the sand at 8.03m on his sudden-death last chance and did not look back. A fifth round 8.33m took him into the lead and he consolidated that with a final 8.34m to place him third on this year’s world lists.
Silver went to Spain’s Luis Felipe Méliz who had led the competition from the second round with 8.21m while bronze was won by Sweden’s Michel Torneus (8.17m).
"I was really nervous and a little bit afraid after the first two failures," commented Bayer. "I don’t know how I managed to jump so far after. It was really hard, because I lost a lot of power on the first three attempts."
Netherlands scores upset in men's 4x100
The high-drama of the 4x100m delivered once again with medal favourites, Great Britain, failing to get past first base, while defending champions France – even with their talisman Christophe Lemaitre – fared no better than bronze.
The race was won by the Netherlands with a European leading 38.34 national record, while silver went to Germany (38.44), just 0.02 ahead of France.
"We came here to win gold," said 200m winner Churandy Martina. "We were ready for anything."
Because the Dutch quartet live and train in different countries they only had this week to perfect their technique, but it worked to perfection.
Belgium took the 4x400m courtesy of a final leg by Kevin Borlée of 44.22 to overtake Britain’s Richard Buck and win in 3:01.09. The Briton held on for silver, while Germany collected bronze. Kevin’s brother, Jonathan, ran the second leg in 44.3, giving the twins the two fastest legs of the event.
Turkey sprang a surprise in the 1500m with runaway gold and silver, the last lap being covered by the winner, Asli Çakir, in a withering 57.92 for a finishing time of 4:05.31. The last 800m was covered in 2:03.7, close to the winner’s best two-lap time.
Her team-mate Gamze Bulut was a little more than 0.07 slower for silver while pre-race favourite, Anna Mishchenko of the Ukraine, had to settle for a distant bronze. Turkey previously won this race ten years ago with Süreyya Ayhan.
"The success of Turkish athletes in the middle distances began in 2002 when the first Turkish woman (Ayhan) got a gold medal," explained Çakir.
"That inspired me back then. We're happy that we got gold and silver today, the next time we want to get all three!"
On the warmest day of the championships, Portugal’s Ana Dulce Felix made a long run for home with 3000 metres to go and no one responded and she collected gold in 31:44.75.
Second was Briton Jo Pavey, winning her first European track medal at the age of 38. Bronze went to the Ukraine’s Olha Skrypak.
Germany, anchored by 2010 sprint champion, Verena Sailer, won the sprint relay in a European leading 42.51 as favourites, Ukraine, failed to get the baton past first base.
Silver went to the Netherlands in a national record 42.80 while Poland were a delighted bronze with 43.06 and a place in the Olympic semi-finals. Olympic hosts Britain were disqualified in the semis and thus failed to make their own Olympics.
Ukraine lifted their first ever medal, let alone gold at the 4x400m, winning in 3:25.07. France were 0.42 down in silver while Denisa Rosolova of the Czech Republic hauled her team up from fifth to bronze with a 50.59 leg.
Like Sebastian Bayer in the Long Jump, eventual gold medallist, Sandra Perkovic of Croatia, also courted ignominy by fouling her first two attempts in the Discus. But then she delivered a flawless 67.62m in the third round and gold was hers.
Arch rival, Nadine Müller of Germany, was having a solid though not spectacular day and collected silver with a third round 65.41m while bronze went to Ukraine’s Natalya Semenova (62.91m).
"I was very upset and told myself, just throw, just throw," said Perkovic talking of her third attempt. "But when I saw 67.62m I almost died. After the third round I had stomach ache because of all the nerves."
"The Croat really put one out there with that 67.62m. It was not possible for me in any way today to counter that," explained Müller.
"But Perkovic was also a bundle of nerves today and only managed to pull it together in the third round. But you always have to take her into account.
"The competition was normal for me. I have won silver and lost nothing. I did dream about winning, but this is Ok too."
The big surprise in the Hammer was the failure of world record holder, Betty Heidler of Germany, to get past the preliminaries.
That left the way clear for Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk to take gold with 74.29m after bronze last time round. Slovakia’s Martina Hrasnova threatened briefly with a second round mark of 73.34m, but that was to be as close as she got, taking silver. Anna Bulgakova of Russia lifted bronze (71.47m).
Michael Butcher for the IAAF
Click here for RESULTS
- Renaud Lavillenie after his 5.97m world lead in Helsinki (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Big day for Sergey Shubenkov in Helsinki (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Sandra Perkovic successfully defends her European crown in Helsinki (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Portugal's Ana Dulce Felix, commanding 10,000m victory at the European Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright