The second day of the European Athletics U23 Championships saw four events reach a conclusion.
8196 Decathlon PB
Aleksey Drozdov of Russia, who finished sixth in the men’s Heptathlon at last winter’s European Indoor Championships, finished a most serpentine path on the way to his first international gold medal in the Decathlon with a PB 8196.
The eventual medal winners had separated themselves from the rest of the field by the end of the first day, but there was much shuffling of the top three places during the final five events to produce an exciting competition.
The key move for Drozdov came with a PB 4.70 in the Pole Vault, which cut his deficit behind young compatriot Aleksey Sysoyev - who jumped only 4.30 - from 121 points to only four with two events remaining. Drozdov’s 63.97 Javelin throw, compared with Sysoyev’s 59.30, was the final step in bringing the elder athlete to the top.
Sysoyev’s silver-medal total of 8089 was only one point under his personal best, while Norman Müller’s final total of 7989 for the bronze was agonizingly close to the event’s benchmark 8000-point level.
The Heptathlon race, by comparison, was almost never in doubt as Laurien Hoos of the Netherlands powered her way to a 6291 victory, which was a new U23 championships record.
Lilli Schwarzkopf had moved into second place after the Javelin, the event’s penultimate discipline, and the German ran a splendid 2:11.94 in the 800 Metres to help set a pace which Hoos used to close in on the record. Schwarzkopf’s 6196 accumulation for the silver was well ahead of the 5950 compiled by Olga Levenkova of Russia in winning the bronze.
Rybakov takes final sprint battle to win 10,000m
Yevgeniy Rybakov showed poise throughout the men’s 10,000 metres as he outkicked Germany’s André Pollmächer over the final 200 metres for the win, 29:30.76 to 29:33.22. Marius Ionescu of Romania could not respond when the other two made their move with 250 remaining, but his PB 29:34.52 was good for the bronze.
Rybakov’s twin brother Anatoliy will attempt to bring an unprecedented second U23 gold medal to the family in Sunday’s 5000 metres.
Women’s race walk title goes to Russia too
Earlier in the afternoon, the very first medals of the weekend were decided. Last year’s World Junior 20K Race Walk champion, Irina Petrova of Russia, won a tight duel with compatriot Olga Kaniskina to win that event, 1:33.24 to 1:33.33. Somewhat behind the leading Russian duo was Barbora Dibelková of the Czech Republic, whose 1:34.44 was rewarded with the bronze medal.
The remainder of the programme continued to involve elimination rounds…
The men’s High Jump stands out as the single event with the greatest quality depth. Fourteen jumpers managed the automatic qualifying height of 2.21, including Olympic bronze medallist Jaroslav Bába and Michal Bieniek of Poland. There were no unexpected exits in this event, the final of which should be one of Sunday’s highlights.
In the men’s 400 metres semifinals, the potential tenor of Saturday’s final was evident as six of the eight runners advancing established or equalled personal bests. One of the two who did not was the fastest of the day, Britain’s Robert Tobin, with 45.64. Of note was the other heat winner, Konstantin Svechkar of Russia, who dropped his PB for the second time in two days with 46.09.
The women’s 400 final could find Russians occupying all steps of the victory platform, as all three heat winners were from that country. Olga Zaytseva had the fastest time with 51.69, as Yelena Migunova (51.82) and Anastasiya Ovchinnikova (52.53) also hit the finish line first.
Sebastian Ernst’s leading time of 20.54 in the men’s 200 metres heats came not only as a goal for advancing to the final but also in achieving the long-awaited A-standard for Helsinki. The current European Junior 200 champion had been frustrated in his quest numerous times during the summer, but the waiting is now over for the young German.
Finland advanced all three of its entrants in the men’s Javelin Throw, although it was Russia’s Vladislav Shkurlatov who provided the big throw with a PB 81.14, the day’s only fling exceeding eighty metres.
Several more Russian women showed their strong hands in track qualifying. Yelena Yakovleva looked invincible with her PB 23.06 in the women’s 200 metres while a 1.5 mps wind was trying to blow her backwards. And Yevgeniya Zolotova appeared to have lots left after her leading heat time of 2:02.89 in the women’s 800 metres.
Ed Gordon for the IAAF
Click here for FULL RESULTS