Russia were confirmed as the best athletics nation on the continent after they ran out as emphatic winners of the 2010 SPAR European Team Championships on Sunday (20).
They added another five individual victories on the second day, including Tatyana Dektyareva’s sparkling 100m Hurdles win in 12.68 and excellent times in both the 4x400m relays, to the eight they had mustered on Saturday and overall put together a total of 379.5 points.
By the end of the weekend they had a huge 62.5 points advantage over Great Britain, who were second with 317, while the defending champions Germany had a strong second day, after only being seventh overnight, and finished third with 304.5 points.?
Borzakovskiy out of his blocks
Yuriy Borzakovskiy was the first Russian athlete to get maximum points on Sunday.
The 2004 Olympic Games 800m gold medallist, and the world’s fastest man over 800m indoors had not raced over two laps of this track this summer but showed no signs of ring rust as he controlled the race from the front after the first 200m and crossed the line in 1:45.41.
“For my first 800m race of the summer, this was a good performance. It was the perfect start to my racing programme that will lead to the European Athletics Championships next month,” said a smiling Borzakovskiy.
“Of course, I’ve seen what Rudisha and Kaki did in Oslo (at the IAAF Diamond League meeting there two weeks ago). I am sure I will also have some good races with them very soon,” he added.
Inspired by Borzakovskiy’s win, Dektyareva went to her marks shortly after he had crossed the line and sped to a European-leading100m Hurdles time of 12.68.
“I'm so excited, so excited. This is a great result, I'm obviously very pleased. I thought I could run 12.70-12.75 but this was even better and despite the fact that there are still technical problems that must be corrected,” commented the delighted Dektyareva, who was running into a slight 0.3mps breeze.
Anna Avdeyeva won the Shot Put with 19.14m, with Germany’s Petra Lammert a distant second with 18.31m and still struggling to get back to her best after surgery on her elbow last winter.
All that was left to complete a perfect weekend for the Russian team were triumphs in the 4x400m relays.
The women’s 4x400m relay team delivered the expected victory in the penultimate event, with 400m Hurdles winner Nataliya Antyukh and individual 400m winner Kseniya Ustalova on the last two legs, clocking a world-leading 3:23.76.??
Arguably more eye-catching though, certainly in European context, was the finale executed by the Russian men’s 4x400m quartet, whose time of 3:01.72 was the best by a European team this year.?
Vladimir Karasnov, who is still only 19, was timed at 44.11 for his anchor leg and managed to keep at bay Great Britain’s 2009 IAAF World Championships finalist Michael Bingham, the fastest European over one lap of the track last year.
?Kuznetsov and De Zordo upset the form book
If a Russian overall victory, and most of their individual event wins, were generally predictable there were still a few stunning upsets in Bergen.
Arguably the biggest surprise of the whole weekend came when Ukraine’s Viktor Kuznetsov pulled off a shock win in the Triple Jump, beating Great Britain's Phillips Idowu, the 2009 IAAF World Championships gold medallist, and France's Teddy Tamgho, the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships gold medallist and world indoor record holder who also jumped 17.98m in New York last weekend.??
With both Idowu and Tamgho well below their best on this occasion, Kuznetsov's first-round jump of 17.26m, a personal best by three centimetres, was good enough for him to get 12 points.
"I only had one good jump but that was all that mattered,” said a beaming Kuznetsov, who reached the 2008 Olympic final before his injury problems of last year. “It's great to win because I had a hamstring injury last year and could only long jump. When I arrived here I thought that I could be third, I was just here to do my best but Tamgho and Idowu are such good jumpers I didn’t expect to beat them. I have no idea why they did not do better.”
Idowu went out to 17.12m for second place while Tamgho, after his fireworks in the Big Apple, had to settle for third with what is now a relatively modest 17.10m.
?German Javelin thrower Mattias De Zordo also took a notable scalp when he threw 83.80m to leave the local hero Andreas Thorkildsen having to settle for second place with a relatively modest 82.98m.??It was the current Olympic, World and European champion’s first defeat this year after four successive victories, which have included him throwing a world-leading 90.37m last month.?
Bryzhina follows in the family tradition
The 20-year-old Ukrainian sprinter Yelizaveta Bryzhina has inherited good genes for going fast with both her parents - Viktor Bryzgin and Olga Vladykina - winning gold medals in 1988 and her family background shone through when she produced a burst of acceleration off the bend in the women’s 200m, going from third to first, to win in a new personal best of 22.71, the fastest time by a European this year. ?
Another impressive performance came in the High Jump from Italy’s Antonietta Di Martino, with the 2007 IAAF World Championships silver medallist to becoming only the third woman to go over 2.00m outdoors this year.
?Greece, hosts Norway and Finland occupied the last three places in Bergen and were relegated and will be replaced by the promoted Czech Republic, Sweden and Portugal, who all bounce straight back into the top division after themselves being relegated 12 months ago.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF
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