A triple gold medal haul for Great Britain and a world-leading performance in the decathlon highlighted a wet, windy and unseasonably chilly second day at the European Championships in Zurich on Wednesday (13).
British fortunes began with the evening’s longest event on the track where, four years after winning the title that catapulted him on to the global stage, Mo Farah regained the continental 10,000m crown.
After leading the race for much of the final two kilometres, Farah unleashed his trademark sustained kick over the final lap to reach the line in 28:08.11, becoming just the fourth man to win the event twice at these championships.
“Winning the European Championships again really does mean a lot to me, I didn't want to let people down after missing the Commonwealth Games,” said Farah, whose victory put an end to questions about his fitness and health, coming just six weeks after he collapsed at his home and was airlifted to a hospital.
There were no signs of any problems in the race which Farah seemed largely to control, whether running from the back or from the front. Choosing to linger at the rear of the pack in the opening stages, he joined the leaders when Polat Kemboi Arikan, the defending champion, tried to make an early solo break. The Turk’s tactic proved to be folly when he was caught by the midway point and was never again a serious factor.
When Farah switched gears at the bell, Arikan and his teammate Ali Kaya gave chase with Farah’s teammate Andy Vernon also in medal contention. Vernon passed Arikan with about 200 metres remaining before he chased down and passed Kaya at the line to finish off a surprise 1-2 for Great Britain. Vernon’s 28:08.66 was a season’s best, while Kaya’s 28:08.72 for third was a personal best.
First gold for Porter
The second British victory of the day came about an hour later, courtesy of Tiffany Porter who edged Frenchwoman Cindy Billaud in a thrilling 100m hurdles face off.
Porter started well and built a clear lead by the second hurdle. To her inside, Billaud kept the pressure on, but couldn’t quite make up that initial cushion that the Briton had built. Porter stopped the clock in 12.76, holding off Billaud’s powerful finish by just 0.03.
“I'm just so happy to win, this is my first gold medal so I couldn't be happier,” said Porter, the world bronze medallist last year and silver medal winner at the Commonwealth Games 12 days ago. “I focused on my lane and performed when it mattered the most.”
Germany’s Cindy Roleder finished strong to take the bronze, clocking 12.82.
100m titles for Dasaolu and Schippers
James Dasaolu was the third Briton to strike gold with a convincing victory in the 100m. Clearly ahead some 40 metres into the race, the 26-year-old powered on to finish unchallenged in 10.06 to secure his first major title.
“I didn’t have a great start but I battled through so I’m happy,” said Dasaolu, who ended a 16-year gold medal drought in the event for Great Britain.
Two-time European champion Christophe Lemaitre, who had been struggling with his start in each of his races here, had to settle for second in 10.13, while Briton Harry Aikines-Aryeetey finished strong to steal the bronze from team-mate Dwain Chambers, 10.22 to 10.24.
In the women’s short dash contest, Dafne Schippers overcame a sluggish start to edge Myriam Soumare to the gold medal and take another big step in her transformation from heptathlete to sprinter.
Running against a strong -1.7m/s headwind, the 22-year-old clocked 11.12 to become the first Dutchwoman to win the European title since Fanny Blankers-Koen captured a sprint double in 1950.
“The first 20 metres were not that good and the last 20 were not very relaxing so I can see some space for improvement,” said Schippers, who moved her combined-event ambitions to the sidelines to focus on the sprints this season. She’s now looking to emulate Blankers-Koen when the 200m gets underway on Thursday morning.
Soumare clocked 11.16 to improve one spot from her finish in 2010 while Briton Ashleigh Nelson, a former world youth and world junior medallist, was third, clocking 11.22. Finishing her surprising two-day rise, Mujinga Kambundji was fourth in 11.30 less than two hours after clocking a 11.20 Swiss record; her second in as many days.
Krauchanka tallies 8616 world lead
In the decathlon, Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus ignored the less-than-ideal weather conditions to piece together an 8616-point performance, the first world leader of these championships.
Third after the first day, the 28-year-old from Belarus dropped to third after a 14.20 run in the morning’s high hurdles, but a near-PB in the discus (47.46m) and a solid 5.10m clearance in the pole vault lifted him to the lead for good after eight events.
A 68.11m throw in the javelin cushioned his lead before he wrapped up the two days with a 4:39.39 run in the 1500m. His tally was just one point shy of his personal best from Gotzis in 2007.
Twenty-two-year-old Kevin Mayer of France chiselled together a consistent two days to finish second with a 8521-point tally, 95 behind the winner, with Russian Ilya Shkurenev taking a second successive bronze with 8498. Both were personal bests.
The combined events at the European Championships form part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge. With this being Krauchanka’s first decathlon of the season, he won’t yet make a mark on the overall standings. But seventh-place finisher Rico Freimuth now moves into the overall lead ahead of Eelco Sintnicolaas, who finished fourth here with 8478.
Harting and Lesueur successfully defend
Olympic and world champion Robert Harting added to his treasure chest of superlatives with his successful title defence, becoming just the second man to win back-to-back discus throw titles.
Opening with a 63.94m toss, the three-time world champion reached 66.07m in round three to secure the victory over Gerd Kanter, who pulled out a 64.75m throw in the third round to stay in the competition, having been in 12th place after two rounds. It was Kanter’s third continental silver and his 10th medal from the past 11 major championships.
Pole Robert Urbanek reached 63.81m to take the bronze, 27 centimetres ahead of his more favoured team-mate Piotr Malachowski, who was never in a medal position.
Eloyse Lesueur only registered two legal jumps but that was enough to defend her long jump title and give France its first gold of the championships. The 26-year-old reached 6.85m in the fourth round to overtake Ivana Spanovic by four centimetres to add the European title to her world indoor crown from Sopot.
Russia’s Darya Klishina, twice a European indoor champion, won bronze here with a 6.65m best, getting the nod over Germany’s Malaika Mihambo who reached the same distance but had a lesser secondary mark.
Narrow race walk victory for Lopez
The first title of the day went to Spaniard Miguel Angel Lopez who fought his way to a narrow and dramatic victory in the 20km race walk. Racing on wet and slippery streets during the morning rains that washed over Zurich, the 26-year-old broke from a tight four-man battle to win in 1:19:44, just a second ahead of world champion Aleksandr Ivanov.
“To become the European champion, that is a very important achievement for me and it boosts my self-confidence,” said Lopez, who won Olympic bronze over the distance two years ago. “Before the competition, my plan was to fight for the medals but only in the last kilometres I started to feel that the victory is possible.”
Denis Strelkov of Russia was given the nod for bronze over Ukraine’s Ruslan Dmytrenko after both stopped the clock in 1:19:46.
Elsewhere, sub-1:43 man Pierre-Ambroise Bosse of France looked to be the man to beat in the 800m after his comfortable and confident 1:45.94 run in the semis.
Bogdan Bondarenko of Ukraine needed just one leap – a clearance at 2.23m – to move into tomorrow night’s final in the men’s high jump and his eagerly anticipated face-off against Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov of Russia.
Medal favourites Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France, Briton William Sharman and defending champion Sergey Shubenkov of Russia each clocked 13.29 to top the first-round qualifiers in the 110m hurdles.
In the women’s 800m heats, defending champion Lynsey Sharp advanced comfortably with a 2:01.55 heat win, just a few ticks slower than her British team-mate Alison Leonard’s round-leading 2:01.47.
Rasmus Magi was the quickest in the men’s 400m hurdles semis, his 48.54 a national record.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF