18 JUN 2006 General News Prague, Czech Republic

Olsson is back with 17.40 leap in Prague - European Cup First League Group A match Day Two

Christian Olsson improves to 17.40 in Prague (Hasse Sjogren/Deca)Christian Olsson improves to 17.40 in Prague (Hasse Sjogren/Deca) © Copyright

Jumping in just his second competition since after being sidelined by injury in September 2004, Sweden's Olympic Triple Jump champion Christian Olsson reached 17.40 to confirm that he is back and ready for battle at August's European Championships. In the team battle, Belgium's men and the women from Belarus maintained their overnight leads to earn promotion to Europe's top division next summer.

The Swedish men's squad tried hard on the second day at Rosicky Stadium, collecting wins by Johan Wissman in the 200 (20.55), Robert Kronberg in the 110m Hurdles (13.59), Alhaji Jeng in the Pole Vault (5.70) and Mattias Claesson in the 800. But it was still not enough for promotion as Belgium was better by five points, despite just one win, and that came in the final event, the 4x400 relay. It was a historical achievement for Belgium, who will compete in the highest category next year for the first ever.

The Belarussian women had a more comfortable margin, winning by 10.5 points, while scoring five wins on the second day --the 1500, 5000, the 4x400 relay, the Long Jump, and the Hammer Throw. Oksana Menkova's 73.62 effort in the Hammer was the best women's result on the day. Belarus are returning to the top division for the first time since 2001.

Notable also were a pair of sub-23 second performances in the 200m by Kim Gevaert (22.91) and Yelena Nevmerzhitskaya (22.99), while the 3:26.19 by Belarus in the 4x400 is the third fastest of the year.

Italy scored a pair of wins, taking top honours in the Shot Put (Chiara Rosa, 17.96) and 100m Hurdles (Margaret Macchiut, 13.20) to finish second in the team battle with 116 points. Belgian Tia Hellebaut won the High Jump with a 1.96 leap before going out at a would-be national record of 1.99. Barbora Lalakova of Czech Republic improved her outdoor best to 1.94, still shy of her 1.99 indoor best.

But the Czech women did not achieve any other wins to follow up on their four from Saturday. For the host men, Jiri Vojtik just missed Frantisek Brecka's national record (20.61 in 1984) with his 20.62 clocking. Elsewhere, Estonia's Gerd Kanter confirmed his form in the Discus Throw with his strong 67.49 win, equalling his season's best and the seventh farthest throw of the year. Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen from Norway also fulfilled his role with his 82.24 win in the Javelin Throw.

Second after the first day, both the Czech squads dropped to third overall, the men with 104 points, the women with 102. Relegated were the Norwegian and Austrian men's teams and the Swiss and Latvian women.

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By an IAAF correspondent