Francis Obikwelu en route to Leiria victory (Marcelino Almeida) © Copyright
General News Leiria, Portugal

Portugese men, Spanish women, lead in Leiria - European Cup 1st League Group A

Portugal’s men and Spain’s women are the first day leaders at the European Cup First League Group A competition in Leiria, Portugal.

On the men’s side Portugal tallied 61 points, thanks to three wins (100m, Long Jump, and 4x100 m). In second place is the Czech Republic (58 points), with Netherland third (52 points) and Finland fourth (43 points).

In the women’s competition Spanish leads with 58 points (thanks to four wins – Pole Vault, Triple jump, 3000m and 3000m Steeplechase), eight points ahead of Belgium and nine up on the Czech Republic. The Portuguese are in fourth place, 11 points behind the leaders.

Obikwelu takes 100m, anchors winning 4x100m Relay

One of the great moments of the day was in the 100m, with the presence of Francis Obikwelu, who reached the victory in 10.16 (wind: +1,5 m/s). The Olympic 100m silver medallist and twice European champion produced a fast race, but, he said, “Not as fast as I expected. I was here to make a race under the 10 seconds, but I couldn’t achieve it. I want to get that performance before the Olympics. My goal here is to help Portugal to achieve the place in the 12 first European nations, because we will organize the first SPAR European Team Championships Super League in 2009.”

The sprinter was the anchor of the Portuguese 4x100m team who dashed to the win.

Another Portuguese, World Triple Jump champion Nelson Évora, took a dramatic win in the Long Jump, with a last round leap of 7.88m, relegating Finn Tommi Evila to second place after he lead with his 7.86m leap until the last round!

Some other favourites confirmed their form. The Netherlands’ Rutger Smith won the Shot Put with a 20.50m throw, as did the Czech European High Jump medallist Tomas Janku (2.30) and Austrian Gunther Weidlinger in the 5000m with a strong 200m sprint finish ahead of Portuguese Rui Pedro Silva.

In the hammer, Aliaksandr Vascchyla (Belarus) was first with a 76.10m throw.

Good first day for Spain –women’s competition

In the women’s events, Belgium’s European sprint champion Kim Gevaert proved her favourite status with her 11.36 win in the 100m, ahead of Spaniard Josephine Onyia (11.45).

In the Discus Throw, the 2005 World medallist Vera Cechlová of the Czech Republic won with a 60.84m toss.

In a pair of competitive distance races, Spain’s Dolores Checa won the 3000m in 8:54.92 over Portugal’s Jessica Augusto (9.01,96) after a 500 meter sprint Augusto lead the entire way. In the 3000m Steeplechase, Portuguese Sara Moreira was in the lead until the last lap before Rosa Morató of Spain won in the sprint to the finish line!

The last event in the field, the Javelin Throw, produced another brilliant day for Czech World champion Barbora Spotakova. The 26-year-old holds a clear lead in the current World rankings thanks to her best two results this season - 69.15m in Zaragoza and 68.81m last Monday in Prague. In Leiria whe threw 63.69 finishing well ahead of Portuguese Silvia Cruz, who broke the Portuguese national record with a 59.76m throw. 

António Manuel Fernandes, for the IAAF

Full results in http://www.leiria2008.org/leiria/