The Russian Indoor Championships, held in Moscow at the CSKA hall, saw three athletes perform a double, but the star performer over the three-day event, which ended on Thursday (19), was pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova.
The European champion cleared 4.75m on the first day of the championships, her best vault under any conditions, and the 23-year-old now looks set to do battle for the gold medal with Greece’s Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou at the European Indoor Championships in Prague in two weeks’ time, the latter taking over from Sidorova at the top of the 2015 European list when she went over 4.76m in Stockholm on Thursday night.
Angelina Zhuk-Krasnova and Anastasiya Savchenko tied for second place with 4.60m world junior champion Alena Lutkovskaya equalling her own national junior record when she placed fifth with 4.50m.
"There were many women in the field and I am really thankful to them that they didn't take it too long to jump the lower heights and didn't keep me waiting for my turn for hours," said Sidorova. "I am really happy with my PB. I even made two attempts at 4.80m but I feel this is still too high for me. Still, it was very important to understand how it feels when you are jumping such heights."
Yelena Korobkina won the long-distance double by winning both the 3000m and 5000m, in 8:50.39 and a personal best of 15:47.09.
Two gold medals also went to the world 4x400m relay champion Kseniya Ryzhova, who won the 60m in 7.30 and the 200m in 23.45. She was faster in the heats in both events, clocking PBs of 7.26 and 23.36.
Yekaterina Koneva has probably been one of the busiest athlete in the world in the past week as she competed four times in just three days.
First, Koneva successfully qualified for the finals in the triple and long jump, and then won both events, and both times with her final attempts.
The toughest victory was probably the long jump, as Koneva was struggling until she managed to pull it all together with her final effort of 6.79m, just three centimetres shy of her recent personal best.
Surprisingly, in her favourite event, the world indoor triple jump champion was also second until the final round, behind Natalia Alekseyeva who had jumped a personal best of 14.08m earlier in the competition. But Koneva dug deep to produce a winning jump of 14.44m.
Global champions Ukhov and Shkolina fare badly
In the long-awaited men’s and women’s high jump competitions, Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov and world champion Svetlana Shkolina sadly did not quite up to expectations.
Both athletes, who are part of the same training group headed by former Olympic champion Sergey Klyugin, have just recently recovered from serious tonsillitis and are still apparently far from their best shape.
Shkolina and world indoor champion Mariya Kuchina both had clear cards up to 1.90m but Kuchina was the only one to clear the bar at 1.94m. After that, she had three attempts at a personal best and world-leading height of 2.02m, with one of her jumps being close to succeeding.
Ukhov surprisingly did not manage to finish even in the top three. He and Tsyplakov will battle it out for the third spot on the team for the European Indoor Championships at the Malmo Games on 25 February.
Ukhov, having cleared 2.24m, preferred to pass when the bar was raised to 2.28m, while the trio of Aleksey Dmitrik, Alexander Shustov and Daniil Tsyplakov all cleared that height. None of the quartet managed to get over 2.31m, leaving Ukhov down in fourth place with just 2.24m to his name.
The 2010 European champion Shustov won the national indoor title for the first time in his career, getting the verdict on count-back, while Dmitrik was second and Tsyplakov third.
In the men’s pole vault on the final day, Aleksandr Gripich had a superb competition with two indoor bests in one evening.
Alone after 5.65m, Gripich jumped 5.75m on his second attempt and went even further to clear an outright PB of 5.81m, also on his second jump. After that, the 28-year-old called it a day.
Vasily Kopeykin was the surprise winner of the long jump with 8.00m and qualified for his first Russian international trip, the result being a surprise not least because world champion Aleksandr Menkov was also in the field.
Menkov is still suffering from a leg injury and managed to make only one valid attempt, jumping 7.81m to finish sixth.
Poistogov upstages Olympic medallist wife
Anastasiya Bazdyreva won the 800m in a personal best of 2:02.13 with Mariya Nikolayeva second in 2:02.24. In a thrilling finish with 0.2 covering the first three, Olympic bronze medallist Yekaterina Poistogova came from behind but had to settle for third in 2:02.33.
The latter’s husband Stepan Poistogov provided some compensation for his partner coming up short when he won the gold medal in the men’s 800m in 1:47.92.
Konstantin Tolokonnikov, just 19, took his first senior medal at a national championships with a best of 1:48.64 for third place.
Tolokonnikov, the world youth silver medallist, had already been called by the new federation head coach Yuriy Borzakovskiy, himself a pretty decent 800m runner, the future of Russian middle-distance running.
Dmitry Sorokin produced a personal best and European-leading mark of 16.94m in the triple jump. Sadly, world indoor champion Lyukman Adams missed the competition due to injury.
In the absence of two-time European 110m hurdles champion Sergey Shubenkov, who will not compete indoors this winter, his main rival on the national scene Konstantin Shabanov took the 60m hurdles title in 7.69.
Perhaps one of the biggest upsets of the three days was when 19-year-old Yana Glotova, fifth at last year’s IAAF World Junior Championships, produced an indoor best of 52.84 to take the 400m title, with pre-event favourite Yekaterina Renzhina third in 53.18.
Natalia Maryanchik for the IAAF