Raphael Holzdeppe of Germany wins the 2008 World Junior gold medal in the Pole Vault (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Kaunas, Lithuania

European U23 Champs, Final Day

Russia was again the dominant nation with 25 medals as the curtain came down on the final day of the European U23 Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania (19). Britain was second with a record 18, Germany third on 12. Poland collected 15, but with one fewer silver than Germany was placed fourth.

An exciting 1500m was won by Russia’s Ivan Tukhtachev in 3:51.19 with a withering turn of speed from 120m out to burst past defending champion, Alvaro Rodriguexz of Spain, who eventually faded to fourth. Silver was claimed by Great Britain’s James Brewer who came through in the last 40m with Jacob Holusa of the Czech Republic moving fastest of all over the last 20m to grab bronze.

Turkey’s Sultan Haidar won the women’s event in 4:14.12 after she overtook a tiring Yelena Fesenko of Russia with 100m to go. Fesenko eventually picked up bronze as she was passed by compatriot Kristina Khalayeva with 20m left. 

Popkova shod this time completes distance double

After winning the 10,000m on Friday and running the last 2km with only one shoe, Natalya Popkova came back to complete the distance double fully shod and in style. Running away from the field with 600m left in the 5000m, the Russian extended her lead to the finish, crossing the line in 15:54.11. Fifth in the 10000m, Belarus’ Sviatlana Kudzelich dug deep to overtake Britain’s Emily Pidgeon with 20m to go to claim silver with the Briton, unable to respond, taking bronze.

Aleksandr Pavelyev won 3000m Steeplechase gold in 8:40.55 after a last lap tussle with Spain’s Jose Luis Galvan who took silver with Poland’s Krystian Zalewski earning bronze. At the final water jump Pavelyev took over the lead but he was being seriously pressed by Galvan. The Spaniard however had nothing left and the Russian clinched gold with a tiring Zalewski ecstatic to snatch bronze.

Silver medallist last time round in Debrecen, Ancuta Bobocel of Romania went one better in the women’s Steeplechase using the simple tactic of running away from the field. Taking the lead early on but tracked by Gulcan Mingir of Turkey they had already established a 40m lead over Germany’s Julie Hiller as they stopped the clock at 3:11.27 after 1km. That was the way things stayed for the next kilometre (6:28.15) but Mingir was visibly fading and Hiller was fast closing the gap. With 700m the inevitable happened and Hiller sped past Mingir to go into silver. Now the Turk was hanging on for bronze with second-string German Susanne Lutz sensing a medal. Bobocel reached the bell with Hiller a 10sec down. With 300m to go Lutz passed Mingir and it was silver and bronze for Germany .

Germany’s Melanie Bauschke pocketed Long Jump gold with a dramatic last round leap of 6.83m into a headwind on a day when gales were swirling all around the stadium. It was a gold-medal winning jump in all senses since Bauschke only had a best of 6.63 coming into this final and it followed a lacklustre 6.05 in round five. The leader until that moment was Nastassia Mironchyk of Belarus who had taken advantage of a 4.7 following wind to jump 6.76 in round two and move into gold medal position. But against an inspired Bauschke, the Belarus athlete’s only two valid jumps were not going to be enough and she had to be content with silver.  Bronze was claimed by Eloyse Lesueur of France with 6.72W, also in the sixth round.

Holzdeppe, as expected

As expected Ralph Holzdeppe of Germany – a 5.80m vaulter - won Pole Vault gold, clearing a season’s best 5.65. Silver was claimed by British champion, Luke Cutts, who vaulted a life time best 5.60. Bronze went to Greece’s Dimitrios Patsoukakis with a height of 5.55, also a personal best.

After a long and vociferously supported High Jump final, the medals were decided at the height of 2.28m, with Poland’s Sylwester Bednarek going clear to claim gold and a lifetime best.  Up until then the Ukraine’s Oleksandr Nartov had matched his progress, but found the height beyond him. After one failure he reserved his final two ultimately unsuccessful attempts for 2.31 and had to settle for silver. At the height of 2.24 neither man was in front as Andriy Protsenko of the Ukraine had a clean record, but he was unable to progress further and took bronze on count-back over Hungary’s Oliver Harsanyi. 

Palameika launches spear to 64.51m!

The women’s Javelin was essentially a duel between Madara Palameika of Latvia and the Ukraine’s Vira Rebryk. Palameika signalled her intent already in the first round with a loud shriek and a lifetime best of 60.10m, 40cm further than she had ever thrown before. Rebryk responded with 59.79 before taking the lead in round three with 60.62. Both women fouled the third round and in the fourth Rebryk appeared to have both hands on gold when she threw 61.43 to go further away. But then came Palameika’s final devastating throw of 64.51 and Rebryk was unable to respond. Sweden’s Anna Wessman had enjoyed a good day, throwing a lifetime best of 55.91 in round two for bronze.

The Italians are becoming adept at winning triple jump finals in dramatic fashion. Fabrizio Donato did it with his only valid jump at the European indoors in the fifth round. Daniele Greco left it even later though he at least had three other valid attempts to his name before producing a massive PB in the last round of 17.20m to claim gold. Zhivko Petkov of Bulgaria also left it for his final jump to claim silver with 16.81 while bronze went to Aliaksandr Liabedzka in 16.80PB. 

Repeat win for Shayunou

Belarus’ Yuriy Shayunou successfully defended the Hammer Throw with 78.16, but any of his three valid attempts would have taken gold, such was his dominance. Silver went to Russia’s Anatoliy Pozdnyakov on 72.42 while Germany’s Alexander Ziegler collected bronze with 72.32. This year Shayunou has collected the World Student Games title as well as his second European U23 gold to add to the Belarus title.

Ever since she took over the lead in the Long Jump, Latvia’s Aiga Grabuste never looked like relinquishing the heptathlon title. She covered the 800m in 2:17.74 for 854 points, giving her a total of 6396 for a lifetime best. Almost 200m points down was Olga Kurban (2:16.01) of Russia in silver with 6205 while compatriot, Nadezhda Sergeyeva (2:16.24) finished on 6118PB for bronze.


The British quartet of Ryan Scott, Rion Pierre, Toby Sandeman and Leevan Yearwood snapped through the changes to take the expected sprint relay gold in 39.09. It was a solid display of relay running, but the telling moment came with the decisive bend running of surprise 200m champion, Toby Sandeman. French anchor, Teddy Tinmar was 0.17 down at the line for silver while Poland took bronze in 39.52.
The women’s short relay was left until last on the day’s programme in expectation of a Lithuanian medal. The local squad did not disappoint, but gold medal went to the British squad in 43.89 by the hairline margin of 0.01 from Poland with the Lithuanians a further 0.19 down.

From the first changeover in the 4x400m, Poland was in the lead and never lost it, individual bronze medallist, Jan Cipiela, bringing the baton home in 3:03.74, but only just as Italy’s 200m runner, Matteo Galvan, came within 0.05 of denying the Poles.

400m gold Yannick Fonsat made all the difference to a French quartet who were in languishing in sixth until he took over and brought them through for bronze.

Russia won the women’s 4x400m but it was closer than it should have been as Germany’s Sorina Nwachuku dramatically closed the gap on Kseniya Ustalova on the final leg. Ustalova had been handed a 10m lead by Kseniya Zadorina but appeared disinterested in pressing home her advantage.

With 150m to go, Nwachukwu had halved the gap and the Russian squad were starting to look concerned when the individual 400m winner finally reacted to the situation to pick up the pace and cross the line in 3:27.59 for gold.

Germany who had been in second since the first changeover collected silver while Belarus’ Alena Kievich overhauled a tiring Hanna Titimets of the Ukraine in the final metres for bronze.

Michael Butcher for the IAAF