Norway’s night in Glasgow, and no one could argue – all that could be done was salute the superb, scintillating brilliance of Karsten Warholm and Jakob Ingebrigtsen.
The pair lit up the second day of action at the European Indoor Championships on Saturday (2), seizing command of their respective finals and stamping their authority on races that are, in truth, their secondary events.
Warholm (400m hurdles world rank 2, 400m world rank 29) wasn’t even planning to compete here until recently, the 400m hurdles world champion convincing coach Leif Olav Aines to allow him to take his chance just days before action got under way at the Emirates Arena.
Good decision, coach.
Warholm blasted to the lead from the gun, overtaking Spanish rival Oscar Husillos (400m world rank 12) down the back straight and hitting the bell in a scorching 21.38. From there he never let up, charging to the line to equal the European record of 45.05, well clear of runner-up Husillos (45.66) and Tony van Diepen (400m world rank 75) of the Netherlands (46.13).
“I love to win, of course, but the time – oh my God,” said Warholm. “I came here ready to run, and the crowd – it was like running at home.”
One down for Jakob Ingebrigtsen
For Jakob Ingebrigtsen (1500m world rank 8), the hardest part of his night was not the race – not the eight minutes he spent extending his margin of supremacy over the best distance runners in Europe. No, the 18-year-old’s most difficult task was finding a Norwegian flag.
After he crossed the line a dominant champion in the men’s 3000m, confirming himself as the undisputed doyen of European distance running at 18 years, 163 days, he had to spend several minutes scanning the crowd, beckoning to all Norwegians present for his national flag.
It was something of an oversight by those in Norway’s contingent, given Ingebrigtsen’s 3000m victory was one of the most foregone conclusions of the week. In truth, it could have been draped over his shoulders with a lap to run, the point at which Jakob swept to the lead to overtake older brother Henrik (1500m world rank 27, 5000m world rank 15).
He had made an earlier move with three laps to run, only to surrender it with two laps left, and the siblings poured it on from there with Britain’s Chris O’Hare (1500m world rank 14) giving best chase. But chasing Ingebrigtsen is akin to running for a bus – worth trying, but almost always futile.
He hit the line in splendid isolation, like a man halfway through his Sunday jog, in 7:56.15. “It wasn’t easy, there were a lot of elbows,” said Ingebrigtsen. “But I think the others had respect for us and they handed it to us so we could make it our race.”
The battle for silver was decided by three thousandths of a second, with O’Hare edging Henrik Inebrigtsen, both credited with 7:57.19.
“I just hope that run was good enough to get into Team Ingebrigtsen,” said O’Hare with a laugh, referring to the TV series which follows the family. “I was going to run at the back but then I saw those guys having too much fun up front so I decided to get involved.”
Wojciechowski and Swoboda lead strong day for Poland
Poland could also call it a super Saturday, with Ewa Swoboda (100m world rank 13) and Pawel Wojciechowski (pole vault world rank 6) reigning supreme in their respective events, the latter leading a one-two in the men’s pole vault.
The latter event, as expected, boiled down to a head-to-head clash between Wojciechowski and Piotr Lisek (pole vault world rank 5), with Lisek appearing poised to live up to his favourite’s billing midway through the competition.
He had a perfect series up to and including 5.85m and appeared to have one hand already grasping the gold, given bronze medallist Melker Svard Jacobsson (pole vault world rank 24) bowed out with a best of 5.75m and Wojciechowski had registered earlier failures at 5.65m and 5.75m.
After one failure at 5.85m Wojciechowski skipped to 5.90m, which he sailed over at the second and final attempt to snatch gold from his teammate. Lisek tried the same height twice before moving the bar to 5.95m, neither of which proved successful.
Tears flowed after the women’s 60m final as their teammate Swoboda earned what seemed her rightful destiny, the 21-year-old consistently one of the world’s best short sprinters in recent years. She didn’t get a blazing start in the final but in the pick-up department, no one can rival her, which showed again here as Swoboda powered to the line in 7.09.
Former champion Dafne Schippers (100m world rank 6, 200m world rank 2) came through well for the silver in 7.14, with Britons Asha Phillip (100m world rank 32) and Kristal Awuah (100m world rank 33) flashing past the post together in third at 7.15, with Phillip given the verdict by one thousandth of a second.
In a wide-open men’s 60m final, Jan Volko (100m world rank 28, 200m world rank 25) kept his head best and leaned to gold by width of his width Slovakian vest in 6.61. “It was the toughest race of my life because I had an injury coming in,” said Volko. “I didn’t expect this at all. It’s unreal.”
Silver went to Turkey’s Emre Zafer Barnes (100m world rank 29) in 6.61 with bronze going to Joris van Gool (100m world rank 121) in 6.62.
Sprunger edges Bolingo Mbongo in 400 thriller
The women’s 400m was decided by a thrilling finale with Switzerland’s Lea Sprunger (400m hurdles world rank 5) and Belgium’s Cynthia Bolingo Mbongo (400m world rank 49) charging to the line in perfect unison, Sprunger edging victory in a world-leading 51.61 to Bolingo Mbongo’s 51.62, a Belgian record.
Sprunger blasted through the opening lap from the outer lane in 24.53 seconds, which left her firmly in command, but her Belgian rival stayed in her slipstream until the final turn, sling-shotting into lane two up the home straight with one desperate lunge, coming up just short by the tiniest margin.
“It wasn’t the race I was planning for,” said Sprunger. “They were really pushing me hard the whole race but I’m so happy I was first.”
Back in third, Dutch sprinter Lisanne de Witte (400m world rank 9) re-defined what was possible out of lane one in an indoor 400m with a superb run to take bronze in a PB of 52.34.
Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi (high jump world rank 10) soared back near his brilliant best with victory in the men’s high jump, one he had sealed very early in the competition with a perfect series up and over 2.29m. Two silver medals were handed out to Greece’s Konstadinos Baniotos (high jump world rank 25) and Ukraine’s Andrii Protsenko (high jump world rank 13), both recording identical series over their best height of 2.26m.
Tamberi ploughed on alone, the 26-year-old winning his first title since severe injury ruled him out of the Rio Olympics in 2016, going over a best of 2.32m to crown an emotional win.
“I want to tell everyone what happened over the past two years and how serious my injury was,” he said. “It’s something amazing. I told myself, ‘don´t give up, don't ruin this moment because it´s your moment.' I knew I could come back.”
At the end of day one in the men’s heptathlon, Britain’s Tim Duckworth (decathlon world rank 11, long jump world rank 36) is leading the way on 3533 points, with Sweden’s Fredrik Samuelsson (decathlon world rank 22) second on 3475 and Spain’s Jorge Urena (decathlon world rank 42) third with 3443.
Duckworth started his day with a 6.85 60m and racked up a further 1007 points when best in the long jump with 7.79m. A shot put best of 12.97m demoted him to third but he regained the lead via a clearance of 2.13m in the high jump.
Authorised neutral athlete Ilya Shkurenyov (decathlon world rank 7) is currently sitting fifth on 3381 points but should slingshot up the standings on day two and be in contention for the gold medal.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF