German shot putter Christina Schwanitz (© Getty Images)
Dortmund, Germany – Spectators in the sold-out Helmut-Körnig-Halle in Dortmund expected a show-down in the men’s Pole Vault at the German Indoor Championships this weekend (23-24), and the athletes didn’t let them down.
Olympic silver medallist Björn Otto defended his national title with a jump of 5.85m, but his opponents put up a strong fight.
It was German outdoor champion Malte Mohr who looked most confident in the field, clearing 5.55m, 5.70m and then a season’s best of 5.80m on his first attempt. Otto was under pressure early as he needed three attempts for 5.70m, at which point he was in just fourth place.
Otto then failed his first attempt at 5.80m, but as ever the 35-year-old showed great composure. With a clearance of 5.85m, he secured his third national indoor title, having won in 2007 and 2012. Afterwards, he attempted 6.01m but without success.
There were good performances also from Hendrik Gruber and Tobias Scherbarth, who came third and fourth respectively with a height of 5.75m, making it difficult for German head coach Jörn Elberding to decide who to take to the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg next week. For Olympic and European bronze medallist Raphael Holzdeppe, his 5.70m was only good enough for fifth place.
“I had a good attempt at 6.01m,” said Otto, “but my goal was not to break the German record, I wanted to qualify for the European Indoors.” Asked for the key to his longevity, he said: “Less training!”
World lead for Schwanitz
On the first day of the two-day championships, world leader Christina Schwanitz was the big favourite in the Shot. In the absence of European Champion Nadine Kleinert, who has already finished her indoor season, Schwanitz took her second national indoor title in style.
In the third round of the competition, she achieved a mark of 19.79m, improving her outright PB by 11cm. All four of her valid attempts would have been enough to win.
“I was angry because the competition started slowly and all other events seemed to be more important than the Shot,” said Schwanitz. “This anger, combined with a little bit of luck and the right feeling for the Shot, caused something perfect – finally a PB after five years!”
Schwanitz, who now moves up to second place on the German indoor all-time list behind Astrid Kumbernuss (20.30m), will head to the European Indoors as the big favourite as six of the ten best marks in the world this year have been achieved by the German. “I’m looking forward to the Championships. And maybe I can throw even farther.”
Ralf Bartels said goodbye to his fans at his last German Indoor Championships with a mark of 20.08m to win indoor title number six.
Fast sprints from Sailer and Reus
Another highlight of the championships were the 60m sprint events where the big favourites stormed to victory.
Verena Sailer, the 2010 European 100m champion, nearly missed the competition because of the flu, but she recovered quicker than expected and showed that she was still up to speed. She won the final in 7.18, her second-fastest time this year and only three hundredths short of her PB.
“I wanted to race ahead of the European Indoors,” she said. “Several people have told me that I haven’t lost shape because of the flu. Mentally, that was really important to me.”
20-year-old Tatjana Pinto could not quite challenge her German relay partner yet. But with a time of 7.24 she, too, proved that she was in good shape and ready for Gothenburg.
In the men’s event, Julian Reus made a strong impact in the preliminary rounds with times of 6.66 and 6.60. And in the final, he was aiming to go even faster. Crossing the finish line in a PB of 6.56, he clocked the fastest winning time at German Indoor Championships since 1999. In Gothenburg, he wants to make it to the final and is looking for a place amongst the top six.
Reif beats Bayer in the Long Jump
In the men’s Long Jump, European champion Sebastian Bayer was mainly aiming for the qualifying standard for the European Indoors because flu had hit him hard a couple of weeks before. So he was happy with second place and 7.97m, which put him on the road to Gothenburg.
For Christian Reif, the 2010 European champion, eight metres doesn’t appear to be a problem this winter. He took the title with 8.06m and had a couple more promising attempts, but overstepped four times.
Erik Balnuweit clocked 7.61 in the 60m Hurdles, taking the title away from Gregor Traber (7.68) who took his last chance to qualify for the European Indoors. Gold in the women’s 60m Hurdles went to Nadine Hildebrand in 8.07 ahead of the defending champion Cindy Roleder (8.11).
Solo runs in the 3000m
1500m specialist Carsten Schlangen opted for the 3000m. Increasing his speed after three laps, he disposed of his opponents quickly and celebrated an unchallenged victory in 7:55.37.
Corinna Harrer, Olympic semi-finalist in the 1500m, followed his example and performed an impressive solo run in the women’s 3000m, winning in 9:04.21.
“I’ve only just come back from a training camp,” explained Harrer. “My main aim this winter will be the European Indoors. As we don’t have an indoor hall in Regensburg, my coach and I are going for the longer distances during the winter. In Gothenburg, I want to make it to the top five and looking at my training results, I think I can run 8:45.”
In the 1500m, Anett Horna caused an upset for the Sujew twins Elina and Diana when she overtook the sisters on the last lap to claim victory in 4:13.26.
“We are very disappointed,” said Diana and Elina Sujew. “We wanted to keep the pace fast, but it wasn’t quick enough. We were aiming to make the final at the European Indoors, but now we’re not sure if that’s realistic.”
The top female sprinters in the 200m all achieved PBs with Inna Weit (23.53) beating Maike Dix (23.61) and World Junior sprint relay silver medallist Katharina Grompe (23.72).
Silke Bernhart for the IAAF