Pawel Fajdek spins to the European hammer title in Amsterdam (© AFP / Getty Images)
Poland finished top of the medal table at the 2016 European Championships after a hat trick of golds on Sunday (10) in Amsterdam.
The most inevitable of those was Pawel Fajdek’s in the men’s hammer. The world champion’s 80.46m opener would have been enough to win, but he produced five more throws that none of his competitors could better, just to be sure.
A fifth-round 80.93m was his best, and ensured that he upgraded on the silver he won two years ago in Zurich. It is his 27th straight victory. Ivan Tikhon of Belarus won silver with a last-round 78.84m that saw him leapfrog Poland’s Wojciech Nowicki, whose third-round 77.53m was enough for bronze.
In the men’s 800m, Adam Kszczot hit the front at the final bend after Thijmen Kupers led the field through 400m in 52.51. From there the Pole was never troubled as he sped away for gold in 1:45.18.
“I defended my title – this was my day,” Kszczot said.
His countryman Marcin Lewandowski, who had stuck close to Kupers at the front, was able to hold his form to pip Briton Elliot Giles for silver as both were given a time of 1:45.54.
The third Polish gold came in the women’s 1500m. 2014 champion Sifan Hassan didn’t take advantage of her status as the fastest in the field, allowing a pedestrian affair to play out as the single group of athletes passed 800m in 2:46.
At that point Hassan, the world indoor champion, manoeuvred to the front, but didn’t pull away. Off the final bend the athletes were still bunched. Angelika Cichocka picked her moment perfectly, speeding past Hassan to take gold in 4:33.00.
“I was happy that it was a slow start because I knew I had a strong finish,” said Cichocka, who upgrades on her European indoor silver medal from last year.
Hassan just held on for silver in 4:33.76. Ireland’s Ciara Mageean finished strong for bronze in 4:33.76.
In the day’s first track event, Sara Slott Petersen won the women’s 400m hurdles in 55.12. The Dane took the lead coming off the second bend after a determined start. She then repelled the late drive of Poland’s Joanna Linkiewicz (silver in 55.33) and Switzerland’s Lea Sprunger (bronze in 55.41).
“I hope this is the start of something special,” said Petersen, whose gold is her first as a senior.
Storl completes hat trick
David Storl is fast becoming one of the most decorated athletes in the sport. The 25-year-old German is already a double world champion, and in Amsterdam he won his third straight European outdoor title with a fifth-round 21.31m.
“This result helps me,” said Storl, who hasn’t hit full form this season. “Rio is the big target. This is one step closer.”
Poland’s Michal Haratyk threw 21.19m in round four for silver. Portugal’s Tsanko Arnaudov took bronze courtesy of a season’s best of 20.59m with his opener.
Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi added to his world indoor title with the European high jump crown.
The 24-year-old, who tackled his first heights wearing basketball shorts, cleared first time up to 2.32m, which was enough to secure gold. He had three cracks at 2.40m, and though each effort looked technically good, he could not find the height to join the exclusive club.
“When I started jumping I had a good feeling,” Tamberi said. “I tried 2.40m because it was [above] my record. I would like to jump higher in the future.”
Briton Robbie Grabarz cleared 2.29m first time for silver. Chris Baker and German Eike Onnen shared bronze after both needed two attempts to clear the same height.
The finish in the men’s 5000m was a classic.
Hayle Ibrahimov set a reasonable pace, passing 3000m in 8:25. He still led at the bell (12:45) but as the final lap wore on, his energy departed him.
That wasn’t the case for Spaniards Ilias Fifa and Adel Mechaal, German Richard Ringer, Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen and France’s Mourad Amdouni, who sped past the Azerbaijani pace setter with 80 metres to go.
From there it was chaotic and close. Ingebrigtsen appeared to time his burst to perfection, but his dip wasn’t quite there as he, Ringer, Mechaal and Fifa crossed the line together. Or not quite. Ingebrigtsen was given a time 0.01 slower than the other three, who tied in 13:40.85.
Fifa was given the nod for gold in the photo finish, his compatriot Mechaal taking silver, while Mechaal was given bronze.
“I am currently the king of the 5000m in Europe!” declared an ecstatic Fifa. Only just.
Gesa Felicitas Krause blitzed to steeplechase gold with a stylish gun-to-tape win. Any athlete who dared take her on was shrugged off with her superior speed and hurdling technique.
The world bronze medallist finished in 9:18.85, little more than a second outside the championship record. It completes her set of European junior, under-23 and senior titles.
Luiza Gega finished in an Albanian record of 9:28.52 for silver. Bronze went to Ozlem Kaya of Turkey in 9:44.41.
There was another national record for Portugal’s Patricia Mamona in the triple jump. Her last-round 14.58m (0.8m/s) sealed a dramatic gold medal ahead of Israel’s Hanna Minenko, who had led with 14.51m. She settled for silver, while bronze went to Greece’s Paraskevi Papachristou with 14.47m.
Dutch delight and world leads in relays
The women’s 4x100m, the evening’s first relay final, was won by hosts the Netherlands.
Individual 100m champion Dafne Schippers ran a superb second leg to set her teammates on the way after a solid start from Jamile Samuel. The lead was five metres as Tess van Schagen handed to Naomi Sedney, who held the gap to win in a national record of 42.04.
Britain earned silver in 42.45, while Germany took bronze in 42.48.
The men’s event was won by Great Britain. James Ellington ran a fantastic bend on leg three, handing a marginal lead to Chijindu Ujah who stormed to gold in 38.17. France won silver in 38.38, while Germany won bronze again in 38.47.
More relay British joy came as they won gold in the women’s 4x400m with a world-leading performance.
Individual bronze medallist Anyika Onuora set it up with a brilliant second leg after Emily Diamond’s controlled opener. Eilidh Doyle held the 10-metre lead she was handed, and Seren Bundy-Davies anchored the baton home in 3:25.05 – the fastest time in the world this year.
France came home second in 3:25.96, while Italy earned bronze in 3:27.49, thanks to a 49.72 anchor from individual 400m champion Libania Grenot.
In the closing event, Great Britain looked on course for a third gold until Matt Hudson-Smith’s legs tied up with 30 metres to go. He was in a helpless stagger as Kevin Borlee passed him to win gold for Belgium. Rafal Omelko also went by to take Poland’s eighth medal of the day, and ensure his nation topped the medal table for the first time in history.
Moreira and Abraham rule the roads
The final morning in Amsterdam began on the streets with the half marathon.
Sara Moreira of Portgual and Italian Veronica Inglese set the pace in warm, clear conditions, breaking away early. Moreira pulled away with 5km to run to take gold in 1:10:19, with the Italian earning silver in 1:10:35.
“It is a beautiful day,” Moreira said, expressing her delight to recover from her DNF in Wednesday’s 10,000m.
Jessica Augusto, also of Portugal, made a late break of her own for bronze in 1:10:55. There was more joy for Portugal, who earned team gold ahead of the Italy and Turkey.
Tadesse Abraham also kicked late to win the men’s race, leading Switzerland to team gold in the process. After dropping Turk Kaan Kigen Ozbilen, Abraham moved through the gears to finish in 1:02:03, despite having to be redirected after missing the turn for the home straight.
Ozbilen was 24 seconds back and took silver, while 2014 European marathon champion Daniele Meucci finished in 1:02:38 to earn bronze. He would get another for landing the Italian team to third in the team standings.
Thomas Byrne for the IAAF