Spanish shot putter Borja Vivas (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Vivas, Garcia and Olmedo show top form at Spanish Championships

For the second year in a row, the Spanish Championships were held in Alcobendas. After a relatively lacklustre session on Saturday (26), the fireworks came on Sunday (27) with a series of remarkable performances topped by Borja Vivas’s massive PB of 21.07m in the men’s shot.

Other top Spaniards such as Victor Garcia, Eusebio Caceres and Ruth Beitia proved to be ready for the European Championships to be held in Zurich next 12-17 August.

The 30-year-old Vivas had already set a career best of 20.80m last June but yesterday’s contest came out of the blue as he improved his PB no fewer than three times.

He opened with 20.16m, and then set a PB in round two thanks to a 20.83m toss. Then he managed 20.85m in the following round and surpassed the 21-metre barrier on his fourth attempt with a 21.07m heave to propel himself into the European Championships medal picture as he now ranks fourth on the season’s list.

Vivas was joined in the podium by Yioser Toledo and Carlos Tobalina who also set respective PBs of 20.25m and 20.15m in the best ever shot put contest by Spaniards.

“I’m amazed, I still can’t believe what I’ve done,” said an overwhelmed Vivas. “I need time to realise I’m a 21-metre athlete. My target now should be to be consistent over 20.80m rather than improve my PB again. I look forward to competing in Zurich as I’m in the form of my life.”

Victor Garcia eyes medal

European bronze medallist Victor Garcia was a convincing winner of the 3000m steeplechase ahead of Sebastian Martos. Following a tactical opening 2000m, covered in a pedestrian 5:52.56, it was Martos who made his move just after the bell. But 29-year-old Garcia ran comfortably on Martos’s shoulder to overtake him some 200m remaining and romp home unopposed, 8:37.10 to 8:37.80.

“The early pace was too slow,” said Garcia, who has a season’s best of 8:17.40. “It made me uneasy, I prefer to go faster. When Martos tried to break away, I followed him with ease. I usually wait to the homestretch to launch my final attack but I felt so comfortable that I anticipated my kick.”

Olmedo prevails over Bustos

As has become a long-standing tradition, the men’s 1500m was one of the most highly-anticipated events of the weekend thanks to the presence of European bronze medallist David Bustos and 2011 European indoor champion Manuel Olmedo.

After slow 400m and 800m splits of 1:01.18 and 2:03.91, it was Adel Mechaal who moved to the front with Olmedo travelling in a comfortable third place while defending champion Bustos ran dangerously boxed in the middle of the still-packed group.

Just before the final bend, Olmedo passed Mechaal easily and kept the winning place to the line while a come-from-behind Bustos could not catch Mechaal and had to settle for bronze. Olmedo’s frantic last 300m took him 39.7 to regain the title he had already captured in 2010 and 2011.

“According to the ranking I was not tipped as the favourite but I know my 3:37 was misleading as I have not contested a fast race yet this year,” said Olmedo. “After two tough years I’m now back in top form. I already managed a bronze medal in Barcelona 2010 and have the highest expectations this year.”

Abadia takes thrilling 5000m

Former European junior steeplechase champion Antonio Abadia got a narrow win in the men’s 5000m over Roberto Alaiz and former European champion Jesus Espana, who was looking for his ninth Spanish title.

After a tactical affair (8:20.51 at 3000m) Espana led at the bell but he was overtaken first by Alaiz and then by Abadia who just caught Alaiz in the closing stages to grab his first national title and secure his presence in Zurich as did Alaiz and Espana. Barely 0.15 separated the three medallists, Abadia’s winning time being 13:48.69.

Beitia and Lopez also ready

While they didn’t find any opposition in their respective events, European high jump champion Ruth Beitia and world 20km race walk bronze medallist Miguel Angel Lopez produced solid performances which suggest they are two of Spain’s safest bets for the European Championships.

The 35-year-old Beitia managed a first-time clearance over 1.95m before failing three times at 1.97m. “I think the Zurich medals will be over 2.00m,” said Beitia, who has a season’s best of 1.99m.

Lopez dominated a solo 10,000m race walk to win in 38:54.87 to confirm that his build-up for the European Championships is going well.

Following his windy 8.16m win at last week’s IAAF World Challenge meeting in Madrid, Eusebio Caceres leapt a wind-legal 8.08m to take the men’s long jump ahead of Jean Marie Okutu, who landed at 7.99m.

Samuel Garcia ran a massive lifetime best of 45.50 in the men’s 400m and 2010 European champion Nuria Fernandez won the 1500m in 4:20.26. It’s still unclear whether the soon-to-be 38-year-old will contest that distance or the 5000m in Zurich.

Elsewhere, Ruth Marie Ndoumbe set a PB of 14:15m in the women’s triple jump and Julia Takacs broke the national 10,000m race walk record with 42:23.37.

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF