Moscow, RussiaRussian athletics flexed its muscles and gave a timely reminder of the impact it may make ahead of the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia next month as the host nation secured crushing victories in both the men’s and women’s events at the fourth edition of the European Indoor Cup in Moscow on Saturday (16-Feb).
Russia’s women had dominated the previous three editions of the cup, which was first held in 2003, so it was no great surprise when they bagged maximum points in six out of the ten events to triumph by a record-breaking margin of 24 points from Germany.
However, arguably their men impressed to a greater extend taking maximum points in five out of nine events to succeed France and secure the cup for the first time, a clear 18 points ahead of Spain.
Breakthrough PB for Borisov in 60m Hurdles
The stand out performer in the CSKA Arena was 60m hurdler Yevgeniy Borisov, who now puts himself in the frame as a realistic medal contender at the World Indoor Championships.
The 23-year-old Russian champion from the Luch Moscow club made a blistering start and produced a flawless piece of hurdling to better his personal best by 0.14 to stop the clock in a national and cup record of 7.44.
Borisov finished well ahead of European Indoor bronze medallist Jackson Quinonez of Spain (7.57) with Germany’s Thomas Blaschek, the European 110m Hurdles silver medallist, a distant third in 7.71.
“It was my third start at the arena,” said Borisov. “I hoped to win, even though my rivals were very strong. The result is good and it is a new personal best.”
Friedrich 2m again
The other outstanding performance of the day belonged to the rising star of German high jumping Ariane Friedrich. The 24-year-old cleared 2.00m for the first time in Glasgow last month and she repeated the feat in the Russian capital to clinch a high-class competition.
A third-time clearance at the 2.00m height equalled the cup record as she shook off the attentions of her nearest pursuer, the IAAF World Indoor bronze medallist Ruth Beitia (1.98m).
Behind this pair, Russia’s former European Under-23 champion Tatyana Kivimyagi was third with 1.95m but Italy’s IAAF World silver medallist Antionetta di Martino in her first competition of the season had to settle for fourth with a best of 1.92m.
Narrow 400m victory for Wissman
Sweden’s Johan Wissman proved too strong for emerging Russian talent Maksim Dyldin to take heat one of the 400m by 0.05 in 46.55. The pair appeared to clash around the final bend but the more experienced Swede held on for a narrow win.
However, Wissman breathed a sigh of relief after he was almost surprisingly bumped out of first position in the overall standings by Italy’s Claudio Licciardello, who shattered his personal best by more than half-a-second to take victory in heat two in 46.57 – just 0.02 behind Wissman.
Elsewhere, Olesya Zykina, the former European 400m champion, maintained her excellent indoor form this season, taking a decisive win in the two-lap event in 51.91. It was some way short of her personal best of 51.09, achieved when winning the Russian Championships earlier this month, but offers further evidence that she could be a major threat for gold at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Spain.
A top quality 800m race saw Poland’s Ewelina Setowski-Dryk, a world indoor finalist in 2006, produce a tactically astute race to overhaul Italy’s 1:58 performer Elisa Cusma in the final few strides. Setowski-Dryk beat Cusma by 0.23 in 2:01.50 with Spain’s World Indoor bronze medallist Mayte Martinez a distant third in 2:02.57 after lying seventh at halfway.
Jospehine Onyia of Spain was an eye-catching winner of the women’s 60m hurdles in a cup record 7.93 as she finished 0.14 clear of Yauhenia Valadzho of Belarus, the fastest woman in the field this year.
Svetlana Nabokina of Russia has been one of the top performers in the women’s 60m this season, but despite picking up a hard-earned victory by 0.02 from Germany’s Verena Sailer, she may be a shade disappointed at the winning time of 7.24.
Elsewhere, IAAF World Championship silver medallist Lyudmila Kolchanova of Russia won a below par long jump competition with a best of 6.60m and the hosts romped to a fourth successive cup victory in the women’s 2000m medley relay in 4:43.22.
But, appropriately, the final word belonged to Olympic 800m champion and Russian superstar Yuriy Borzakovskiy. He ran the 600m second leg to inspire the hosts to comprehensive victory in the men’s 2000m medley relay in a cup record 4:10.58.
Steve Landells for the IAAF
1. Russia 67
2. Spain 49
3. Italy 46
4. Germany 46
5. Poland 35
6. Sweden 30
7. Ukraine 29
8. France 27
1. Russia 77
2. Germany 53
3. Spain 50
4. Poland 45
5. Italy 44
6. Belarus 41
7. Ukraine 37
8. France 23