Dafne Schippers on her way to winning the 100m at the European Championships (© Getty Images)
There were mixed emotions for Netherlands sprint fans on a raucous third day of the European Championships in Amsterdam on Friday (8).
While Dafne Schippers blitzed to 100m gold, her compatriot Churandy Martina suffered heartbreak as he was disqualified for a lane infringement after crossing the line first in the 200m.
Schippers brought the night to a noisy close with a forceful winning run in the 100m. Her margin of victory (0.30) was the biggest in the event since her countrywoman Fanny Blankers-Koen won in 1950.
It was fairly even until 50m, at which point Schippers pulled away with menacing pace. She crossed the line in 10.90 (-0.2m/s) to become the first woman this century to win-back-to-back European crowns.
“The audience’s applause gave me goose bumps,” said Schippers, who won her semifinal earlier in the evening in 10.96 (-1.0m/s). “It was quite windy so it was difficult to set a good time, but I’m shaping up well for Rio.”
Bulgarian Ivet Lalova-Collio finished in 11.20 to take silver, her second of this championships. Bronze went to Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland, upgrading on her fourth-place finish two years ago.
Martina, fresh from taking 100m gold last night, was first home in the men’s 200m. Yet replays showed he stepped out of his lane early on the bend and he was disqualified. That meant Spain’s Bruno Hortelano, who had run a national record of 20.39 in the semifinal, took gold in 20.45.
“It is the most amazing feeling in the world,” said a stunned Hortelano. “I went out to have a good race and that’s all I did and it gave me a medal.”
All that drama meant silver went to Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev in 20.51, while Britain’s Danny Talbot earned bronze in 20.56.
One-lappers retain titles
Martyn Rooney won the 400m title for the second time on the bounce after a brilliant second bend. Two-time world indoor champion Pavel Maslak put in a late burst, but it wasn’t enough to overhaul Rooney who held on to win in 45.29.
“To defend a title is great,” the 29-year-old said. “Last time I won I was relieved; this time I’m elated.”
Maslak came home for silver in 45.36. Bronze went to Dutchman Liemarvin Bonevacia in 45.41, the home crowd erupting when his medal was confirmed.
Libania Grenot was classy in the 400m semifinals and a cut above in the final as she won her second straight European title. It never looked in doubt as the Italian came off the bend with a clear lead to finish in 50.73.
Floria Guei of France took silver, almost half a second back on Grenot in 51.21. Anyika Onuora just held off her British teammate Christine Ohuruogu to earn bronze in a season’s best of 51.47.
Later in the evening, Frenchman Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad – who struggled with injuries last season – looked comfortable as he took gold in the 3000m steeplechase in 8:25.63. It is his third European title in the event.
“The gold medal is important for me but it was also training. My main objective is Rio,” the two-time Olympic silver medallist said. Turkey’s Aras Kaya ran a personal best of 8:29.91 for silver, while France’s defending champion Yoann Kowal took bronze in 8:30.79.
Yasmani Copello was victorious in the men’s 400m hurdles. After a sharp start, he left enough in his legs to close quickly and win Turkey’s second gold of the championships in 48.98.
Spaniard Sergio Fernandez (49.06) took silver, just edging out 2014 champion Kariem Hussein (49.10), who faded after pushing hard on the second bend.
The men’s 10,000m was dominated by Turkish pair Polat Arikan and Ali Kaya. The training partners ran on their own, side-by-side, way out in front. It wasn’t quite a sprint finish, but Arikan pulled away from Kaya in the final 30 metres to take gold in 28:18.52.
Kaya’s silver was won in 28:21.52. Behind him Spaniard Antonio Abadia took bronze in 28:26.07.
Polish joy, Serbian history
In breezy conditions, France’s world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie entered the pole vault final at 5.75m, by which time everyone else had bowed out. But three fouls meant the Olympic champion joined them, only unlike his rivals he didn’t have a clearance to his name.
That left Poland’s Robert Sobera as the winner. He had cleared 5.60m first time to prevail over Czech Jan Kudlicka, who needed two attempts to go over the same height.
“I didn’t expect gold but I’m very happy,” said Sobera. “Maybe the wind was a problem [for the other athletes] but for me it was not.”
Bronze went to Slovenia’s Robert Renner courtesy of his first-time clearances up to 5.50m.
Hammer winner Anita Wlodarczyk treated the Amsterdam crowd to an exhibition. The world champion got better with every throw, topping out with a 78.14m for the Pole’s third straight European title.
Germany’s Betty Heidler produced a season’s best of 75.77m to take silver. Azerbaijan’s Hanna Skydan claimed bronze with 73.83m.
Ivana Spanovic created history in the long jump, despite being short of her absolute best. A second-round leap of 6.94m gave her the lead. In-form Briton Jazmin Sawyers came closest to unseating her with a wind-assisted 6.86m, but that was only good enough for silver as Spanovic became the first Serbian woman to win a gold medal at the European Championships.
“I wasn’t really at my normal level,” Spanovic said. “I believe I will be much stronger in Rio.”
German Malaika Mihambo and Estonian Ksenija Balta both jumped 6.65m, but bronze went to Mihambo by virtue of having a superior second-best jump.
Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic had few problems in retaining her discus crown. She took the lead in round four before sailing out to 69.97m with her fifth effort to seal her fourth European title.
“I thank the crowd for achieving this,” she said. “After this competition I am ready for everything.”
Germany’s Julia Fischer took silver courtesy of her 65.77m best effort, while her compatriot Shanice Craft joined her on the podium with a best of 63.89m.
Vetter leads heptathlon after first day
Despite horrific rain, Antoinette Nana Djimou started smartly in the heptathlon – part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge – in pursuit of a third straight European title.
Her 13.26 in the 100m hurdles left her top of the standings. Anouk Vetter was second fastest overall with a PB of 13.29, while Czech Katerina Cachova was third fastest in 13.33.
By the time the high jump began, the rains had cleared but the wind made it feel cooler than the 18C the thermometer claimed.
Nana Djimou could only clear 1.71m and dropped down to fifth, while Vetter’s 1.74m moved her into first. 2013 world champion Hanna Kasyanova moved into second overall after clearing 1.77m.
Britain’s Morgan Lake was the best by far. The 19-year-old cleared 1.89m – nine centimetres better than anyone else – to move into third overall, tied for points with Gyorgyi Zsivoczky-Farkas.
Nana Djimou then produced a personal best of 16.17m in the shot put. It was the second-best throw of the entire field and put her back into first place, but only by a point over Vetter, whose PB of 15.69m was the third-best throw of the day. Topping the shot put was Austra Skujyte of Lithuania; her 16.31m elevated her to third overall.
Vetter was fastest overall in the 200m, the last heptathlon event of the day. Her 23.89 didn’t just delight the home crowd, it also gave her a 96-point lead over Nana Djimou, who could only manage 24.92. She sits second overall. Austria’s Ivona Dadic is currently in third place after producing a season’s best of 24.11 to finish her day 71 points behind the reigning champion.
Nadine Broersen, the 2014 world indoor champion, is currently in ninth but is expected to move up the standings tomorrow and challenge for medals. Zsivoczky-Farkas and fellow Hungarian Xenia Krizsan, currently 10th and sixth respectively, could also get close to the podium tomorrow.
No surprises in qualifying
In the evening’s qualifying rounds, world indoor champion Sifan Hassan breezed through to Sunday’s 1500m final, where she will expect to retain title she clinched two years ago in Zurich.
In the 800m semifinals, Adam Kszczot of Poland, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse of France and Amel Tuka of Bosnia all advanced to the final.
In the morning session, Germany’s Gesa Felicitas Krause advanced safely in the steeplechase. Milan Trajkovic won his heat in a Cypriot record 13.39 in the 110m hurdles, despite torrential rain.
Ukraine’s Olga Saladukha qualified for the triple jump final as she goes after her fourth straight title. World champion Pawel Fajdek fouled his first two throws before qualifying for the hammer final with 78.82m, the best throw of the preliminary round.
Thomas Byrne for the IAAF