Friday the 13th is unlucky for some, but for Britain’s Simeon Williamson it only brought joy at the European U23 Championships. The 100m title was supposed to be a scrap between new championship record holder, Martial Mbandjock (FRA) and Craig Pickering (GBR) but nobody told Williamson who flew down the track to a championship record of 10.10 erasing the Frenchman’s time from yesterday.
So far Williamson has had to play second fiddle to Pickering but not today as he kept sprinting for another 150m after breaking the beam before lying down in shock on the Debrecen track on the back straight. Pickering also improved his best by 0.01 to 10.14. Third was Mbandjock in 10.27, a full tenth of a second slower than in the semis. “I gambled on the start,” said Williamson, “But it wasn’t a false start and it paid off.”
“I set a PB so I can consider it a very good race,” said a subdued Pickering. “Williamson was perfect today, he was simply unbeatable.”
In the women’s sprint final Germany’s Verena Sailer snatched gold from the jaws of defeat after a poor start that saw her trailing the field until the last few metres when in a blanket finish she outdipped Britain’s Montell Douglas. Both Douglas and Sailer were given the same time, 11.66 into a 2m headwind, but the decision went to the German with France’s Myriam Soumare picking up bronze. After her barnstorming runs in the early rounds where she improved from an 11.51 sprinter to a classy 11.28, Douglas was disappointed, claiming the occasion got to her and she stiffened up.
“My aim was to win,” said Sailer, “but the first failed start made me careful. I had a lot of problems in the semi-final because of the rain, but I'm really satisfied with the final race.”
“I feel really unlucky with this second place,” said Douglas, “because I was in front of everyone in Debrecen. I'm so sorry to travel so much for this disappointment. I hope to get a place in the British team for the Osaka senior World Champs.”
As expected, Russia provided the second clean sweep of the day after the 20km walk as Lyudmila Litvinova of Texas State led home Olga Shulikova and Kseniya Zadorina in a powerful demonstration of quarter-miling, Litvinova improving her PB by 0.12 to 51.25.
“I was preparing only for the gold,” said Litvinova. “The main opponents were my Russian team-mates. I’m ready to go to Osaka, at least as a member of the relay.”
There was a surprise in the women’s Discus Throw and it all happened in the fifth round as Kateryna Karsak (POL) proved the surprise package, walking away with the title and a new championship record of 64.40. Russia’s Darya Pishchalnikova saw herself upstaged in much the same way as she herself won the European title last year, collecting silver with 64.15. Austria’s Veronica Watzek took bronze.
Denis Alekseyev (RUS) appears to model himself on Jeremy Wariner with goatee beard and sunglasses and looked as though he was going to produce a similar performance on the track. In the end, he won the 400m, but only by the proverbial hair’s breadth from Croatia’s Zeljko Vincek who was eating into the Russian’s lead in the home straight. Both men were credited with the same time of 45.69, a PB for both men, but the photo finish showed clear daylight between the two. Secure in bronze was Poland’s Kacper Kozlowski.
As tradition dictates, all the decathletes fell to the track in exhaustion at the conclusion of the man killer. Except for one man, that is, the winner, Andrei Krauchanka (BLR) who calmly took the plaudits and went for the Belarus flag before jogging off to celebrate. His 8492 was a new championship record. In silver, Pascal Behrenbruch (GER) set new figures of 8239 as did Arkadiy Vasilyev (RUS) to take bronze with 8179.
Michael Butcher for the IAAF
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