At the top of the team standings after the second day, Germany confirmed their domination to clinch the title at the European Team Championships, which concluded on Sunday (25) in Lille, France.
It was the third time Germany had clinched the title since the event’s new format in 2009. Germany tallied 321.5 points, 26.5 more than Poland (295) with home nations France third with a tally of 270.
Following a strong Saturday, the German squad continued with their consistency across a range of events to increase their gap over the other nations.
Pamela Dutkiewicz was one of five German winners on the final day of action. The European indoor bronze medallist defeated world bronze medallist Alina Talay of Belarus and Ukraine’s Hanna Plotitsyna to win the 100m hurdles in 12.75.
Just minutes later, heptathlon specialist Claudia Salman-Rath long jumped 6.66m to add another victory for the German team.
Following her recent PB of 3:59.30, rising star Konstanze Klosterhalfen was the pre-race favourite for the 1500m. With two laps remaining, the two-time European U20 cross-country champion made her move to break up the field. She then extended her lead, covering the final two laps in 2:02:34 to win comfortably in 4:09:57, almost three seconds clear of European champion Angelika Cichocka of Poland, who clocked 4:12.16.
Germany’s fourth victory of the day came from Max Hess in the triple jump. The European champion equalled his season’s best of 17.02m.
Following a fourth-place finish over 1500m on Saturday, Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad of France returned to action in the 3000m steeplechase, his specialty. Well-placed in the lead pack almost all through the race, he decided to take command at the bell. Only Spaniard Sebastian Martos managed to hang on to the three-time Olympic medallist, but eventually couldn’t respond to Mekhissi-Benabbad’s last move over the homestretch. The European champion clocked a 59.93 final lap to win in 8:26.71, nearly a second clear of Martos (8:27.46), with Poland’s Krystian Zalewski third in 8:33.02.
Poland’s world silver medallist Adam Kszczot was the favourite for the 800m, particularly in the absence of the injured Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, who was fourth at last year’s Olympics Games. The two-time European champion held off Thijmen Kuipers down the home straight to win with relative ease, but he was then disqualified for a lane infringement on the backstretch, leaving Kuipers to collect maximum points for the Netherlands and take the victory in 1:47.18.
Two-time world champion Pawel Fajdek of Poland prevailed in the hammer with a third-round effort of 78.29m. Pavel Bareisha of Belarus and Great Britain’s Nick Miller were second and third with 77.52m and 76.65m respectively.
Spaniard Orlando Ortega overcame a tricky start to clock a competition record of 13.20 in the 110m hurdles. Spain scored also maximum points in the women’s 5000m as Ana Lozano was a clear winner in 15:18.40.
The women’s high jump featured a close battle between Poland’s Kamila Lickwinko and Marie-Laurence Jungfleish of Germany. Both athletes reached season’s bests of 1.97m but Licwinko won on countback having cleared the bar at her first try, while Jungfleish only got over the bar at her last attempt.
European champion Tatsiana Khaladovich of Belarus took command of the women’s javelin with an opening round throw of 64.60m. Czech Barbara Spotakova responded with a second-round effort of 63.81m and bettered that mark two rounds later with a season’s best of 65.14m to take the victory.
France’s second individual victory of the day came from world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie. The Olympic silver medallist missed his first attempt at 5.55m before passing through the next round. He was then the only pole vaulter in the field to sail over 5.70m, also on his second attempt. He then cleared 5.80m on his first try and eventually missed three times at 5.91m, which would have been a European-leading performance.
“The conditions were tricky with a lot of wind,” said Lavillenie after his sixth win from seven appearances at this competition. “I am glad to win but I’m a bit frustrated with my first attempt at 5.91m.”
Germany had already secured the overall victory before the final event, the men’s 4x400m, but the third place in the overall standings was still all to play for as just three points separated Great Britain and France.
Thomas Jordier ran a strong second leg to give France the lead at half way in the A final with Britain in third. France eventually crossed the line in second place in 3:03.86 as Britain faded on the last leg, finishing seventh in 3:07.79. It meant that France took third place in the team standings by just one point.
The bottom two teams – Belarus and the Netherlands – will move down to the first league when the event is next held in 2019 in Bydgoszcz, Poland. The top three teams from this year's first league competition (which took place in Vaasa, Finland), namely Finland and Sweden, will be promoted to the super league.
Quentin Guillon for the IAAF