Konrad Bukowiecki, still only 20, was the overwhelming favourite to add the European U23 shot put crown to the numerous global and continental titles he won as a teenager and fulfilled his role in fine fashion by setting three championship records during the first two days of competition at the European U23 Championships Bydgoszcz 2017.
The Polish putter, whose image glared out in mock-menacing fashion from all the posters promoting the championships, made light work of qualifying on Thursday (13) when he set his first championship record of 21.26m with his first effort.
Come the final on Friday, Bukowiecki rendered that mark to history when he opened with 21.44m and then, with the gold medal comprehensively won, improved further to 21.59m with the very last attempt of the competition; held at the same venue as the IAAF World U20 Championships last year and so a familiar facility to many of those in Bydgoszcz this time around.
A measure of Bukowiecki’s domination was that he won by almost two metres with the Netherlands’ Denzel Comenentia second with 19.86m.
The other championship record to fall on Friday went to Turkish distance runner Yasemin Can, who took the women’s 10,000m title in 31:39.80.
Can, also only 20, won the European senior 5000m and 10,000m titles last summer in Amsterdam and there was little doubt that if she was anywhere close to that form anyone else would have great difficulty in staying with her, and so it proved.
She increased the pace on the third lap and only Sweden’s Sarah Lahti was initially brave enough to go with her. Before two kilometres had passed, Can was out on her own, running as though it was a time trial.
Can had lapped the majority of the 26 starters before the halfway point and by the end of the race the only person she didn’t go past was Lahti, who kept focused while running her own solitary race and clinched the silver medal in 32:36.91.
Svoboda in Pole position
A few hours prior to Buckowiecki’s win, sprinter Ewa Svoboda already raised Polish spirits with an impressive 100m win.
The world U20 indoor 60m record-holder had looked the class act of the event during the two previous rounds on Thursday and then, despite a modest start, came through strongly in the second half to win in 11.42.
The men’s 100m was a thrilling affair between the two favourites with Slovakia’s European indoor silver medallist Jan Volko getting away well before being chased down over the final 50 metres by Britain’s European U20 champion Ojie Edoburun.
The slender long-legged Edoburun, with physical and racing similarities to a certain Usain Bolt, got in front with 10 metres to go before crossing the line in 10.14 while Volko had to settle for silver on the continental stage once again in 10.18.
A hugely entertaining heptathlon over the first two days of the championships saw Switzerland’s Caroline Agnou, another of the European U20 champions to successfully move up a category in Bydgoszcz, triumph in a national record of 6330.
Despite setting three personal bests in the first four disciplines, Agnou was nine points in arrears of Germany’s 2013 world U18 champion Celina Leffler at the end of the first day on Thursday, 3713 to 3704.
Leffler’s advantage widened to 16 points after a long jump which saw the German jump 6.38m and her Swiss rival 6.36m, both personal bests.
However, a modest javelin throw of 35.16m ended Leffler’s title challenge while Agnou sent her implement out more than nine metres farther to another personal best of 46.19m.
Indeed, Leffler slipped back to third as Austria’s Verena Preiner uncorked the best throw of the day with 49.56m to move up from fifth to second and, with all three women running their hearts out in the 800m, those positions stayed the same after seven disciplines.
Preiner got a national U23 record with her 6232 tally for the silver medal while Leffler also got a personal best with 6070 for bronze.
Panturiou and Vita don’t falter
The two women’s field events went to form with the European U23 list leaders taking the titles.
Romania’s Elena Andreea Panturiou took the triple jump with her fourth-round effort of 14.27m, just four centimetres shy of her personal best. Spain’s 2012 world U20 champion Ana Peleteiro had led at the halfway point with her third-round 14.19m but couldn’t improve with her final three jumps.
German discus thrower Claudia Vita, also a European U20 champion, had thrown 64.45m recently and was the only competitor to go beyond 60 metres in Bydgoszcz, reaching 61.79m in the third round for the victory, backed up with 61.05m for good measure one round later.
Bence Halasz, still only 19, had a personal best more than three metres better than anyone else in the men’s hammer after having thrown 78.85m at the recent IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge competition in Ostrava, but he had some problems finding his best form.
He trailed his Hungarian compatriot Bence Pastzor for much of the competition, but with his fifth-round throw of 73.30m Halasz finally gained the lead and Pastzor couldn’t respond with his remaining two throws before finishing second with 71.51m.
The men’s long jump was an engaging if slightly low-key affair with Ukraine’s Vlayslav Mazur the only man beyond eight metres, adding three centimetres to his best with his second-round 8.04m, which eventually sufficed for the gold medal, just eight centimetres covering the three medallists.
After an almost pedestrian first six kilometres in the men’s 10,000m, Spain’s Carlos Mayo took the first gold medal of the championships on the opening day when he sprinted away from his German rival Amanal Petros with 250 metres to go to win in 29:28.06, Petros following him home in 29:34.94.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF