Turkey’s Yasemin Can won the first gold medal of the European Championships after a dominant display in the women’s 10,000m on Wednesday evening (6).
The quickest European of 2016 coming into the race, she went faster still on a cool, breezy evening in Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium, clocking 31:12.86 to take her first European title.
Defending champion Jo Pavey led through 2000m in 6:15, but from there it was all about Can. She surged to the front and no one went with her. By 3000m the 19-year-old held a 30-metre lead, an advantage she continued to extend in the laps that followed. “I tried to see whether anyone was following me, but nobody was, so I kept running on,” said Can.
She built a 70-metre gap by halfway, passing 5000m in 15:30.
There appeared to be no coming back for the chasing pack, which at that point was led by Portuguese pair Sara Moreira and Ana Dulce Felix. The group they headed began to wilt, and it was broken up further when Felix attempted to close the gap on Can with seven laps to go. It was a brave move that left her running alone, and though she reduced the arrears somewhat, it was all too late to catch Can, who finished with a personal best.
Felix, who won gold in the event in 2012, was rewarded with the silver medal and a PB of 31:19.03. “This is a very emotional moment for me,” said the 33-year-old, who crossed the line thinking of her late father. “I’m so happy with this silver medal.”
Pavey put in a surge with 600m to run, and though she moved from eighth to fifth, she had left it too late to snatch a medal. Bronze went to Karoline Grovdal of Norway, whose 31:23.25 was also a personal best. Ireland's Fionnuala McCormack was fourth in 31:30.74.
Throwing in new territory
The women’s discus qualifiers were held in Amsterdam’s Museumplein. The unique setting inspired 15 women to go beyond the automatic qualifying mark of 58 metres. Germany’s Julia Fischer was the most inspired, reaching 66.20m with her opening effort to lead the standings. Croatia’s world champion and world leader Sandra Perkovic finished ranked second with a first-round throw of 65.25m.
The men’s javelin qualifying was also at Museumplein, where a throw of 81.50m was needed to automatically book a spot in the final. Defending champion Antti Ruuskanen was the best of the lot, his 88.23m suggesting that Germany’s Thomas Rohler, who is ranked number one in the world this year, won’t have things all his own way in tomorrow’s final.
2007 world champion Tero Pitkamaki, who last year won world bronze, could only reach 80.52m and will play no further part.
Defending champions advance
Women’s hammer qualifying was led by the current and former world record-holders. Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk, on the hunt for a third straight European title, underlined her dominance with a 73.94m second effort. Betty Heidler, whose record Wlodarczyk broke in 2014, was next best with 71.46m. France’s world bronze medallist Alexandra Tavernier crashed out after fouling all three efforts.
European indoor champion Michel Torneus led the way in men’s long jump qualifying with 8.19m. It wasn’t so simple for world and Olympic champion Greg Rutherford. The Brit admitted to being “rusty” on the runway, and opened his European title defence with 7.93m before fouling his two remaining efforts as the wind affected his run up. It left him tied for eighth – just enough to see him through to the final, which takes place on Thursday.
The wind died somewhat in the afternoon, and Serbian Ivana Spanovic made light work of progressing in the women’s long jump, qualifying automatically with a first-round leap of 6.90m.
Similarly, Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie needed only one attempt to qualify in the pole vault, his 5.60m first-time clearance enough to top the lot, while defending high jump champion Ruth Beitia was one of three women to surpass the 1.92m automatic qualifying height.
World shot put champion Christina Schwanitz also eased into tomorrow’s final, registering 19.02m with her single effort.
Much of the focus in the women’s 800m was on Yuliya Stepanova. The Russian athlete was competing under a European Athletics flag, but limped over the line after injury hit just past the 600m mark, which forced her to step off the track.
Renelle Lamote (2:01.60) and Selina Buchel (2:04.50) looked most in control, both recording easy wins in their respective heats.
Sprinters ease through
In the day’s sprint and hurdle events, any athlete ranked inside Europe’s top 12 was given an automatic bye to the semi-finals. That applied to Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain in the women’s 200m. The 20-year-old impressed from the gun, racing away from the field on the bend and relaxing through the straight to win in 22.57.
That time was equalled by Bulgaria’s Ivet Lalova-Collio, who won her semi-final after pulling away in the final 30 metres. With Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands focusing on the 100m, the gold will likely go to one of those two in tomorrow’s final.
Two-time 400m world champion Christine Ohuruogu has never won an individual medal at an outdoor European Championships. The Brit didn’t have the luxury of a bye, but won her heat comfortably in 52.69. Nicky van Leuveren delighted the home crowd by winning in 52.45 – the best time of the day.
Elsewhere, Ramil Guliyev of Turkey was fastest in the men’s 100m with 10.21, while Slovakia’s Martin Kucera was the only man to dip under 50 seconds in the 400m hurdles, winning the last heat in 49.56.
Thomas Byrne for IAAF