Convincing 800m victory for Adam Kszczot in Paris (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Idowu and Kszczot the standouts in Bydgoszcz

The eleventh edition of the Enea Cup European Athletics Festival in Bydgoszcz took place in warm but breezy conditions on Friday (3). The wind affected results in many of the events, however, a few of the participants were able to overcome it, most notably Phillips Idowu, who won the Triple Jump with a wind-aided 17.52m, and Adam Kszczot, who battled through to take the 800m in 1:44.30.

The men’s 800m was billed as the highlight of the evening in Bydgoszcz. A high-class race was assured by the participation of the reigning World champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi facing Poland’s two current European champions: Adam Kszczot (indoors) and Marcin Lewandowski (indoors).

Swift pace was dictated in the first lap (50.4 at 400 metres), with Mulaudzi taking position just behind the pacemaker. The South African stuck to the front until halfway through the second lap, but just before the final curve, he was attacked by the two Poles. It was Kszczot who made his move first. He entered the final straight a couple of metres ahead of Lewandowski, and despite the latter’s efforts, this was the way things remained until the finish.

Kszczot maintained a strong pace until the end, finishing in 1:44.30, a big new personal best, and the first time he ever broke 1:45. Lewandowski achieved his best time of the season with 1:44.61. With this race, the Polish runners went into first and second place on this year’s European performance list.

The rest of the field ended up well beaten. Mulaudzi, after some pushing and shoving with the American Duane Solomon, fell behind and finished down in fifth place, over two seconds behind Kszczot.

The women’s 800m was relatively less quick, but ended in an excitingly close finish. It was Angelika Cichocka who came through in the end to take the win in 2:01.60, closely followed by fellow Polish runners Ewelina Setowska-Dryk and Danuta Urbanik, both also breaking 2:02. Briton Marylin Okoro, who led for much of the race, ran out of pace in the final metres to finish fifth.

Dramatic tumble and comeback for Araptany in Steeplechase

There was some remarkable drama in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase. The Ugandan Jacob Araptany, third in last year’s World Junior Championships, went into the lead after one kilometre, and seemed to be heading for a very comfortable win when disaster struck on the final lap. Instead of clearing the barrier, Araptany smashed right into it.

Forced to jump over the hurdle from standing position, the young Ugandan lost all of the 30 metres of lead he had accumulated by that point, as Poland’s top steeplechaser Tomasz Szymkowiak caught up with him. Undaunted, Araptany started to get into top gear once again. Despite the mishap, he was able to sprint well clear of Szymkowiak in the final 200 metres, and even set a personal best with 8:24.22! The Pole, fourth in last year’s European Championships, had to be content with 8:25.52 in second place, and 22-year old Krystian Zalewski improved his best to 8:27.55 in third to establish himself as a contender in this year’s European U23 Championships.

Idowu was one of the brightest stars of the Bydgoszcz lineup, and he did not disappoint. His 17.52m in the second round, helped by 3.3 mps tail wind, guaranteed him a comfortable victory. He backed up that jump with a solid series, including a wind-legal 17.32 in the fourth round.

Aleksey Fyodorov of Russia finished runner-up with 16.91 (+2.7 mps), but the real surprise of the competition was Karol Hoffmann, 22-year old son of the 1983 world champion. With a pre-competition best of just 16.28, few could have expected the series he put together. After a wind-legal 16.33 in the third round, Hoffmann went out to 16.73 in the fourth and 16.87 in the sixth. On both of the attempts the wind was over legal limit; on the latter occasion, it was frustratingly shown as +2.2 mps. He could, however, be very satisfied with his third place and a demonstration he could be a force to be reckoned with in the near future.

The men’s Pole Vault contest was much affected by cross winds. The only vaulter seemingly unaffected by the conditions was European Championship medalist Maksym Mazuryk, who won the competition easily with three first-time clearances, culminating in 5.72m. Of the rest of the strong field, only Russian Aleksandr Gripich cleared 5.52m. Poland’s top vaulters, Lukasz Michalski and Pawel Wojciechowski, could do no better than 5.42m, and neither did a member of the 6-metre club Yevgeniy Lukyanenko.

The wind which bothered the specialists of many events gave assistance to the sprinters throughout the evening, helping them to fast performances. Possibly the most impressive of those was Joel Brown’s 13.26 in the men’s 110m Hurdles race. Fellow American Ty Akins finished second in 13.43, with the reigning World champion Ryan Braithwaite beaten into third place in 13.54.

Former World champion Perdita Felicien was the winner of the women’s 100m Hurdles in 12.94, although her margin was just 0.05 ahead of Nichole Denby. Also notable was the big personal best of 13.39 achieved in that race by heptathlete Karolina Tyminska, who finished just ahead of Olympic finalist Sarah Claxton.

Stephanie Durst took the women’s 100m in wind-aided 11.39 (+2.4 mps), just ahead of Poland’s top sprinter Weronika Wedler. Wedler avenged that loss by clearly winning the 200m later in the evening in 23.28, with the wind also over the legal limit (+2.3).

A strong international field was assembled for the women 400m Hurdles race. Jamaica’s Nickiesha Wilson led for most of the race, but in the end it was Olympic fourth-placer Anastasiya Rabchenyuk of Ukraine who cleared the final barrier in first place and took a clear win in 55.54, with Wilson second in 55.84.

In a closely fought men’s race, the 39-year old veteran Danny McFarlane proved he is still going strong. The Olympic silver medalist from Athens held a narrow lead going into the home straight and held on for the win with 49.37.

The women’s Discus Throw competition turned into an exciting two-way battle. Kateryna Karsak of Ukraine was the first thrower over 60 metres, reaching out to 60.80m in the third round. In the fifth, she was surprisingly overtaken by the Lithuanian Zinaida Sendriute, who set a new personal best of exactly 62 metres.

It looked as if Sendriute might hold on for the win, but on the very last throw of the competition, Karsak put it together to send the discus to 63.52m, her longest throw of the season.

The men’s Hammer Throw was a close competition as well. Krisztian Pars emerged as the winner with 78.41m, just 19 centimetres ahead of Marcus Esser, with Sergey Litvinov in third at 76.83m. Poland’s star Szymon Ziolkowski could do no better than sixth, and the reigning European champion Libor Charfreitag had an even worse evening, finishing down in eighth place.

In the absence of Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski, due to compete in Eugene the following day, the men’s Shot Put was won by Pavel Lyzhyn of Belarus with 20.43m. The Ukrainian Andriy Semenov was the only other man over 20 metres, surpassing that barrier by just 2 centimetres.

Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF

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