Living up to expectations, Taddy Tamgho capped the European Indoor Championships with not one, but two World indoor records* in the Triple Jump as competition concluded at the Palais Omnisport Paris-Bercy in the French capital on Sunday (6).
Tamgho twice reached 17.92m to add a centimetre to his own mark set at last month’s French championships in Aubiere. And the 21-year-old needed quite a bit of distance to even emerge victorious in what turned out to be the highest quality competition of the weekend.
After Romanian Marian Oprea set the tone with a 17.62m leap in the first round setting a championships record, Tamgho opened with 17.46m to end the round in second. Then it was defending champion Fabrizio Donato’s turn to strike and he did, landing at 17.70m to break his own Italian national record. But that lead, despite a mark that elevated him to the No. 10 spot all-time, wouldn’t last long. Tamgho, cool and collected and with the near-capacity crowd behind him, responded with a mark tantalisingly close to the 18-metre mark. It measured 17.92m, knocking the sails out the opposition while sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Tamgho reached an admirable 17.65m in round three before nailing yet another 17.92m mark in the fourth. He closed with two fouls but as far as the locals were concerned, a legend was clearly born.
Behind him Donato, at 34, continued to improve, sailing to 17.73m in the fourth round to solidify his position in the all-time top-10 and take a much-deserved silver. Oprea’s opening mark, which would have been good as gold in any previous edition of these championships, held out for bronze.
“This was very tough and intense competition, more than I expected,” Tamgho said. “After Oprea and Donato jumped 17.62 and 17.70, I was only third. At home I couldn’t imagine losing.”
France takes men’s 4x400
Just moments before Tamgho made his final leap of the championships France collected its fifth gold of the weekend, and 11th medal overall, courtesy of the men’s 4x400m squad. Marc Macedot, Mamoudou Elimane Hanne, 400m winner Leslie Djhone and Yoan Decimus clocked 3:06.17, yet another national record.
Great Britain was second in 3:06.46 with Belgium third (3:06.57).
Russia tops the medal standings
While nine different countries struck gold on the final day, Russia added three to end the weekend with 15 medals in all, just four ahead of France.
Darya Klishina was the first to strike gold thanks to a 6.80m leap in the fifth round to wrestle the Long Jump title from Naide Gomes by a lone centimetre. It was the first senior title for the 20-year-old, the reigning European junior and former World youth champion who is less than two months into her twenties. For Portugal’s Gomes, the 2004 World indoor champion in the Pentathlon and 2008 World indoor gold medallist in the Long Jump, it was a season’s best. Bronze went to Russian Yuliya Pidluzhnaya, who improved her career best to 6.75m in round five.
In the women’s 800m, Briton Jenny Meadows looked every bit the winner for the first 700 metres, but that mattered little over the last 100. Controlling the race from the outset, the UK record holder led by more than half a second through 600 metres but well behind her, Russian Yevgeniya Zinurova was just biding her time.
With just over half a lap remaining, the 28-year-old Zinurova moved up through the field, first passing Meadows’ teammate Marilyn Okoro and then finally reeling in Meadows over the final few metres to win in 2:00.19 to the Briton’s 2:00.50.
Yuliya Rusanova closed fast as well in 2:00.80 to secure a 1-3 finish for Russia.
The result of the women’s 4x400m Relay was no surprise, with Russia again dominating, this time in 3:29.34, well ahead of Great Britain (3:31.36) and host France (3:32.16).
Rogowska and Kszczot golden for Poland
Performing every bit like the World champion she is, Anna Rogowska dominated the Pole Vault, eventually scaling a 4.85m national record. Sealing the victory with a massive clearance at 4.80m, the 29-year-old vaulting Pole needed a second before sailing clear at 4.85, adding four centimetres to her previous best while moving up to the No. 3 spot all-time.
“This is a perfect day for me,” said Rogowska, who also took Olympic bronze in 2004. She ended the competition with three tries at 4.91, one quite solid. “Now, I’m thinking about five metres. But first I need to ump 4.90 – that’s my new goal.”
Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg topped 4.75m to secure silver while teammate Kristina Gadschiew topped 4.65m to take the bronze.
In the men’s race, Adam Kszczot led a rare 1-2 finish for Poland, the first such gold and silver showing for a nation since 1992. Ahead for good by the 500 metre mark, the three-time Polish indoor champion powered home to win unchallenged in 1:47.87. Just 21, Kszczot is showing that he’s becoming quite adept at collecting medals. Fourth at the World Junior Championships in 2008, he took the European Under-23 crown the following year, and in 2010 took World indoor and European bronze.
Marcin Lewandowski, the surprise winner outdoors in Barcelona, took runner-up honours here in 1:48.23. Kevin Lopez produced a furiously face finish to take third in 1:48.35. Earlier in the race, his teammate Luis Alberto Marco tumbled to the ground, apparently spiked from behind with 300 metres to go.
After being nearly shut out in the 800m, Spain captured gold in the 1500m after Manuel Olmedo ran down an otherwise strong run by Turkey’s Kemal Koyuncu over the final 10 metres. Olmedo’s 3:41.03 was a season’s best, and brought Spain its third title since 2000.
Kuyuncu, who led the race from the gun, was rewarded for his efforts with a 3:41.18 national record to go with his silver medal, the first of any shade for Turkey in this event.
Sprint titles for Obikwelu and Povh
The way he smiled widely and shook his head for the introductory television camera shots, Francis Obikwelu indicated that he might have a surprise in store in the 60m. That he did. When the dust had settled and the photo was read, the 2004 Olympic 100m silver medallist edged defending champion Dwain Chambers by a scant 0.01 in 6.53, the fastest by a European this winter and a Portuguese national record.
Strong from the gun, Obikwelu held off the quick-closing Chambers in what turned out to be this championships’ battle of the 32-year-olds.
“I’m glad we were able to show what old men can do,” Chambers said.
Christophe Lemaitre, wildly popular here, didn’t leave empty handed. Fighting back from a somewhat sluggish start, the 20-year-old closed fast to clock 6.58 for the bronze, just ahead of Italy’s Emanuele Di Gregorio (6.59).
The women’s short dash went according to script with Olesya Povh and Mariya Ryemyen notching a 1-2 finish for Ukraine. Povh got out well and was never really threatened en route to her 7.13 victory while her teammate, who was slightly caught behind in the blocks, made up ground in the second half to stop the clock in 7.15. The battle for bronze was a separate race with Norway’s Ezinne Okparaebo prevailing in 7.20, just ahead of British teenager Jodie Williams and Ukraine’s Hrystyna Stuy who were each credited with 7.21.
Clitheroe joins Farah as 3000m champion
Capping the finest indoor season of her career, Helen Clitheroe took the women’s 3000m title at age 37.
At or near the front throughout, the Briton out-sprinted Russian Olesya Syreva over the final 50 metres clocking 8:56.66, a scant 0.03 ahead of the Russian to finally strike gold for the first time in her career.
With two laps remaining, 2005 and 2007 winner Lidia Chojecka made her own bid for a third title as she moved into second, and took the lead outright at the bell. Clitheroe had plenty left and hung on, herself shadowed closely by Syreva. The pair moved past the Pole with just under 100 metres to go, and although Syreva appeared to be ready to pounce down the homestretch, Clitheroe managed to fend her off.
Chojecka held on for third in 8:58.30 with 19-year-old Layes Abdullayeva of Azerbaijan (9:00.37) fourth.
Krauchanka takes first gold
As expected Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus moved up a notch from his overnight position to claim victory in the Heptathlon with a 6282-point tally, his first win at these championships after taking bronze in 2007. And that despite competing with an inured ankle.
“This was a very painful competition for me,” said the 25-year-old, who took silver in the Decathlon at the 2008 Olympics and at the World Indoor Championships in the Heptathlon that same year. “A achieved a new PB despite my injury.”
Roman Sebrle maintained his lead after the morning's 60m Hurdles but his 8.08 clocking to Krauchanka's 8.04 allowed the Belarusian to cut the lead by 10 points to 21. Frenchman Nadir El Fassi clocked a PB 8.13 to remain in third with 4388 points.
In the Pole Vault, Dutchman Eelco Sintnicolaas made a big leap forward – and up the standings – after he topped 5.50m, propelling him from eighth to third overall and firmly into the medal picture with 5406 points.
But Krauchanka performed well here too, equalling his 5.20m season's best to take a 71-point lead over Sebrle - who cleared 4.90m - 5406 to 5335. El Fassi meanwhile scaled 5.00m for first time in his career but dropped to fourth with 5298 points. But as a strong 1000m runner, still remained in the medal picture.
And in the final event, the 27-year-old Frenchman went for broke, running at the front for most of the race. We won by nearly three seconds in 2:34.19 to total 6237, a massive 338 point improvement over his previous personal best.
Sebrle’s 2:42.72 run was just enough to take the bronze – his second straight and sixth medal overall in each of his appearances since 2000 – with 6178 points, just three ahead of Sintnicolaas. Dutchman Ingmar Vos (6020) and Thomas van der Plaetsen (also with 6020) were fifth and sixth.
Second Italian gold for Di Martino
And finally, world leader Antonietta Di Martina admirably fulfilled her favourite’s role in the High Jump, winning the title after topping out at 2.01m. In an otherwise lacklustre competition, the 32-year-old would have taken Italy’s first victory in the event in 30 years after her first attempt clearance at 1.99m, a height too high for the remaining podium spots. Spaniard Ruth Beitia took her second successive silver on countback over Swede Ebba Jungmark, both topping 1.96m.
The 32nd edition of the European Indoor Championships will be hosted by Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2013.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
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* subject to the usual ratification procedures