A slew of world and European leads and a spectacular success for the host nation in the women’s 1500m lit up a thrilling second day of action at the 32nd European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.
For all the sizzling performances witnessed in the sprints and jumps, it was perhaps the staggeringly dominant display by Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi that will linger longest in the memory for much of the crowd at the Scandinavium Arena.
The Ethiopian-born athlete – who recorded the second-fastest time in history of 3:58.40 for the indoor metric mile in Stockholm last month – laid waste to her beleaguered opposition by running them off their feet to strike gold in 4:04.47.
It was by some way the greatest victory margin – 9.72 second – in the 42-year history of the event at the European Indoor Championships. A long, long way behind were Spain’s Isabel Macias who took silver in 4:14.19 with Poland’s Katarzyna Broniatowska winning bronze.
Vicaut wins 60m from Dasaolu in close finish, both clock 6.48
Elsewhere, the men’s 60m final providing a thrilling climax to the day’s competition. Jimmy Vicaut of France was awarded the gold medal in a photo-finish with Great Britain’s James Dasaolu after both were awarded he same world-leading time of 6.48.
It was, surprisingly, the first time France had ever won this title at a European Indoors. Vicaut, the European outdoor 100m silver medallist, had trimmed 0.05 from his lifetime best. Dasaolu, meanwhile, had sliced 0.10 of his lifetime best here in Gothenburg.
To add further lustre to the performance it was the second-fastest winning time in the history of the championships – just 0.02 slower than Great Britain’s Dwain Chambers recorded when striking gold four years ago in Turin. Italian champion Michael Tumi – the pre-competition fastest man in the field – secured bronze in 6.52.
Big PBs from Klishina and Greco
The horizontal jumps also provided some memorable action with Russia’s Darya Klishina successfully defending her Long Jump title with a world-leading mark and personal best 7.01m set in round one. It was the first time in 19 years that the seven-metre barrier had been breached in the final of this event at the European Indoors.
In a high-class final, Eloyse Lesueur set no less than three French records, including a best of 6.90m, but had to settle for silver. The host nation also celebrated an unexpected bronze medal as Erica Jarder of Sweden smashed her personal best with 6.71m to dramatically snatch a place on the podium with her final effort. Before this competition her PB was 6.48m outdoors.
Meanwhile, in the men’s Triple Jump final Daniele Greco of Italy bounded out to a sensational world lead and personal best of 17.70m with his fourth-round effort to take gold and improve upon his PB by almost half a metre
Russia secured the minor medals courtesy of personal bests from national champion Ruslan Samitov (17.30m) and Aleksey Fyodorov (17.12m).
In the day’s other track final, Hayle Ibrahimov went one better than at the2011 edition by securing Azerbaijan’s first ever gold medal at the European Indoor Championships in the men’s 3000m. The pre-event favourite always looked in control and out-sprinted the opposition from the front on the final lap in 7:49.74. Spanish veteran and 2007 1500m champion Juan Carlos Higuero finished strongly to take silver in 7:50.26 with Ireland’s Ciaran O’Lionaird some 0.14 back in third.
Mudrov and Bleasdale soar to gold
Russia secured the gold and silver in the men’s High Jump, although probably not in the order that many would have predicted as Sergey Mudrov edged the 2011 World outdoor silver medallist and his more illustrious team-mate Aleksey Dimitrik with a personal best clearance of 2.35m. Jaroslav Baba of the Czech Republic secured bronze with a season’s best 2.31m.
Great Britain’s Holly Bleasdale shaded the defending champion Anna Rogowska of Poland in a dramatic jump-off in the women’s Pole Vault. Neither athlete was up to the task of clearing 4.72m in the gold medal match up but Rogowska blinked first at 4.67m and the 21-year-old Briton kept her nerve to clear that height. Anzhelika Sidorova of Russia secured bronze with a personal best of 4.62m.
There was drama in the both the men’s and women’s 400m as both pre-competition European leaders crashed out at the semi-final stage. In the men’s two-lap event, Ireland’s Brian Gregan appeared to trip from behind at the bell in the first semi-final and was carried out the arena on a stretcher. In the women’s version Russia’s Kseniya Ustalova coincidentally tripped and fell just before the bell in her semi-final, too. In the Russian’s absence, Great Britain’s 400m Hurdles specialist Perri Shakes-Drayton assumed the position as European leader to head the qualifiers with a personal best of 51.03. In the men’s event, Pavel Trenikhin of Russia qualified fastest with a European lead of 46.00.
Earlier, in the morning session, the big casualty was German Sebastian Bayer whose bid for an unprecedented hat-trick of European Indoor men’s Long Jump titles foundered lay after he could only finish ninth in qualifying with a best of 7.91m, missing out on a place in the final by one spot.
The men’s Heptathlon got underway today and world leader Eelco Sintnicolaas is on course to win his first major indoor title. Ending the day with 3444 points, the Dutchman is nine points ahead of the schedule he set when he scored 6341 last month, thanks to a PB of 6.88 in the 60m, and solid marks of 7.61m in the Long Jump, 14.11m in the Shot and 2.02m in the High Jump.
But Serbia’s Mihail Dudas is the current leader with 3476, putting him on course to smash his 5873 PB and perhaps even break 6000 points. Also set for a big breakthrough is former World junior and World youth champion Kevin Mayer of France, who has set PBs in the 60m (7.10), Long Jump (7.54m) and Shot (15.16m). Should he equal his bests in the remaining events, he’ll be set to score 6200.
The championships conclude tomorrow with no less than 15 titles up for grabs.
Steve Landells for the IAAF