Stockholm, SwedenRussia carried on its winning ways, despite several torrential downpours during the second day, and eventually defending their SPAR European Team Championships title with a record total of 385 points on Sunday (19).
The severe deterioration in weather conditions overnight affected many events but one of Russia’s four victories on Sunday came in an entertaining Long Jump competition won by 2011 European indoor champion Darya Klishina.
Klishina clicks in the cold
Klishina, who actually registered the second Russian victory of the day within the space of two minutes following the 100m Hurdles win by Tatyana Dektyareva, produced her winning leap of 6.74m in the second round.
However, she had to be at her very best as the local hero Carolina Klüft, with her left calf strapped up, produced her best jump since 2008 in the opening round when went out to 6.73m although she could not improve.
"It was very cold, my teeth were chattering from the cold. In my first attempt, I was not inspired but I did not expect that Klüft would jump so far. I expected it from some others, but they couldn’t produce it. One I’d got in front, my nerves settled,” said a severely chilled Klishina.
The big surprise in the Long Jump was the Belarus’ 2011 world leader Veranika Shutoka, who has jumped 6.95m this year, could do no better than 6.53m and finished in fifth place.
Russia wrapped up the defence of their title at the end of the day - although the men’s pole vault was postponed and moved indoors for safety reasons and only completed after Russia had been presented with their medals - with two expected 4x400m wins in European-leading times of 3:02.42 and 3:27.17, which was no surprise as Russian quartets had also taken both gold medals at the 2010 European Athletics Championships last summer.
Harting the hero for Germany
Germany, the 2009 champions, improved to second place this time around after finishing third 12 months ago in the Norwegian city of Bergen but finished a distant 53.5 points in arrears of their Russian rivals.
Among the German athletes to contribute big points was Discus thrower Robert Harting, 2009 IAAF World Championships gold medallist.
The Berliner was in fine form in very difficult conditions for throwing and would have won with any one of four attempts, with his best effort of 65.63m coming in the third round.
He had three throws over 65 metres in his series - 64.42m, 65.50m, 65.63m, 65.46m - which augers well for the defence of his World title in Daegu later this summer.
No one else could truly master the slippery circle and Harting finished more than three metres clear of his nearest rival, with Spain’s Frank Casañas second with 62.43m.
“I was a very hard competition with bad winds, I would have liked to have thrown further but that was too much to have hoped for but I can never be completely unhappy with 12 points for my country,” said Harting.
After double win Lemaitre leaves a lasting impression
Christophe Lemaitre had talked, after running his French 100m record of 9.95 on Saturday, about the possibility of running under his 200m mark of 20.16 in Stockholm
In the end, the weather scuppered that ambition but it was still a hugely impressive outing from a man who has only just turned 21.
The 2010 European Athlete of the Year was quick out of his blocks and, despite the rain and running into a 2.8mps wind, he still clocked the second fastest time by a European this year with 20.28.
No European sprinter has ever run under both 10.00 and 20.00 for the 100m and 200m but Lemaitre looks the most likely candidate to be the first and, having already polished off half of the equation, could well reach the milestone for the latter discipline within the next few months.
Thomas thrills in 1500m shocker
These championships always seems to have its quota of upsets and one contender for this year’s unofficial award for producing the most unexpected win was Great Britain’s middle distance runner Charlene Thomas.
She was lying eighth at the bell of the women’s 1500m but picked off runner-after-runner on the last lap and finished with a devastating burst of speed over the final 60 metres, squeezing between Russia’s Yekaterina Martynova and Ukraine’s 2010 winner Anna Mischenko 40 metres from the line.
Thomas stopped the clock in a season’s best of 4:06.85 with Martynova second in 4:07.08 while European-leader Mischenko was third in 4:07.27.
Ukraine's Kateryna Karsak also caused a big upset by beating several better known names in the women’s Discus, thanks to her outstanding last round effort of 63.56m.
Russia’s 2006 European champion Darya Pischalnikova had tossed implement out to 60.11m with her second effort, the first thrower to reach 60 metres in the unhelpful weather, while Karsak moved up from sixth to second when she managed 60.07 in the third round.
With the penultimate throw of the competition, Karsak then put everything together and achieved her big winning throw, just 17 centimetres short of her 2011 best.
Pischalnikova did her best to respond and threw 61.09m with her final attempt but it was Karsak who finished with maximum points and helped Ukraine to third place overall, their best finish in the three editions of the Championships.
At the other end of the table, Czech Republic, Portugal and Sweden were all relegated back to the First League; the trio having been promoted in 2010. They will be replaced in 2013 by the top three in this year’s First League: Turkey, Greece and Norway.
The SPAR European Team Championships will not be held in 2012 because the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki is on the calendar.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF
- Click here for results from the European Team Championships 1st League (Izmir, Turkey)
- Click here for results from the European Team Championships 2nd League (Novi Sad, Serbia)
- Click here for results from the European Team Championships 3rd League (Reykjavik, Iceland)