Michal Haratyk at the European Team Championships in Bydgoszcz (© Getty Images)
Solid performances in the throws were the key highlights on days 1 and 2 of the European Athletics Team Championships Super League in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Friday (9) and Saturday (10).
Michal Haratyk, the European champion indoors and outdoors, dominated the shot put, hitting 21.41m with his first effort, the winning 21.83m on his second and 21.31m with his third before fouling in the fourth and final round.
"I wasn't fresh today and I didn't feel so great, but in the end I'm satisfied," said Haratyk, who reached 22.32m on 28 July, breaking the Polish record.
Czech Tomas Stanek was satisfied with his runner-up finish, but not necessarily with his 20.65m best effort. "I wanted to be more explosive, but I'm tired because I participated in two training camps in Czech Republic just before arriving here," he said.
The competition only allowed four attempts in the throws, and most winning efforts came early.
Julian Weber reached 86.86m in the opening round to secure a dominant win in Friday's javelin competition, a season's best for the 24-year-old 2016 Olympic finalist. Czech Jakub Vadlejch reached 79.88m for second.
In Saturday's women's contest, French champion Alexie Alais turned in an upset with a 63.46m personal best in the first round that wound up putting the competition out of reach. The 24-year-old's third and fourth round throws of 62.02m and 63.26m were also better than her 61.49m best coming in to the weekend.
Maria Andrejczyk of Poland was a close second at 63.39m, a season's best for the 23-year-old who finished fourth at the 2016 Olympic Games. Czech Irena Sediva was third with 61.32m, a career best for the two-time NCAA champion.
Pole Wojciech Nowicki won the hammer throw by more than two metres, reaching 78.84m in the second round. Frenchman Quentin Bigot was second with 76.70m.
France strong in the sprints
France swept the 100m titles courtesy of Jimmy Vicaut and Carolle Zahi. Running against a -1.4 metre/second wind, Vicaut, a four-time sub-9.90 man, held off Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs by 0.04 in 10.35.
Zahi battled an even stiffer headwind of -2.5m/s when prevailing in a blanket finish in 11.31, just 0.02 ahead of Briton Daryll Neita who herself was 0.02 clear of home favourite Ewa Swoboda.
France also took both of the evening-capping 4x100m relays, the men clocking 38.29 ahead of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (38.73) and Germany (38.88) and the women in 43.09, well clear of the British quartet who clocked 43.46. The Swiss squad clocked 43.11 in the first heat to finish second overall. However, the men's team was later disqualified for a lane infringement.
David Re turned in a dominant victory in the 400m clocking 45.35, well clear of Briton Dwayne Cowan who clocked 46.18. Re, 26, dipped under 45 seconds for the first time in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, on 30 June, clocking 44.77.
The women's race largely went according to the play book, with Justyna Swiety-Ersetic taking a well-received home victory in 51.23. Lea Sprunger of Switzerland closed well to finish second clocking 51.84.
Three victories for Greek jumpers
Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi won the pole vault and 12 points for Greece at 4.70m, beating back Ukraine's Maryna Kylpko who topped 4.56m on her first try, a season's best, before bowing out 4.61m. Angelica Bengtsson finished third for Sweden topping 4.46m.
Miltiadis Tentoglou, the European indoor and outdoor champion, dominated the long jump, taking the victory with a third round leap of 8.30m. Eusebio Caceres of Spain was a distant second at 8.02m. Poland's Tomasz Jaszczuk and Italy's Filippo Randozzo also reached 8.00m, the former taking third on countback.
Another European champion, Paraskevi Papachristou, reached 14.48 to defend her title in the women's triple jump.
Middle distance thrillers
The points chase provided a full slate of exciting middle distance contests.
Swede Yolanda Ngarambe kicked past Italy's Marta Zenoni with about 80 metres to go to take the 3000m in 9:07.67.
Marcin Lewandowski didn't wait that long in the men's 1500m. The tactically astute Pole took to the front with about 250 metres to go to finish unchallenged in 3:47.88, with rising British talent Charlie Da'Vall Grice second in 3:48.35. The last lap was covered in under 52 seconds.
As expected, Germany's Gesa-Felicitas Krause won a tactical battle in the 3000m steeplechase in 9:36.24, nearly three seconds ahead of Spaniard Irene Sanchez who clocked 9:39.24.
Italy's Yemaneberhan Crippa kicked to an impressive 5000m win in 13:43.30, two seconds clear of Swiss star Julien Wanders (13:45.31).
Two-time world champion Zuzana Hejnova was the commanding victory in the womens' 400m hurdles, winning in 55.10. Anna Rzhykova of Ukraine was a distant second in 55.61.
Other winners included Miguel Angel Sancho of Spain who topped 2.26m to take the high jump, Pole Patryk Dobek, who prevailed in the 400m hurdles in 48.87, and Germany's Vita Claudine who won the women's discus on Friday reaching 61.09m, beating Melina Robert-Michon of France, who threw 60.61m.
Host Poland leads the team battle with 193 points, leading France (181.5) and Italy (171). The lowest five of the 12 teams will be relegated to the First League next year; at the moment that's Ukraine (129), Greece (114), Switzerland (106), Finland (103.5) and Sweden (102.5).
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF