Spanish high jumper Ruth Beitia (© AFP / Getty Images)
High jumpers Ruth Beitia of Spain and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy will head to the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 as medal favourites after confidence-boosting victories at their respective national indoor championships on Sunday (6).
European champion Beitia turns 37 next month but is still in excellent form and claimed her 15th successive Spanish indoor title in Madrid with a world-leading clearance of 1.98m on her third attempt before a full complement of tries at 2.00m.
There was a good quality shot put competition with two throwers surpassing the 20-metre line: Carlos Tobalina claimed the title with a fourth-round put of 20.50m to defeat Borja Vivas’ 20.19m.
On the track, Lucas Bua broke the 47-second barrier for the first time indoors with 46.80 in the heats before improving to 46.65 in the final.
The middle-distance events were typically tactical affairs with Kevin Lopez winning the 800m in 1:49.20 and Manuel Olmedo winning the 1500m in 4:02.79. 39-year-old Nuria Fernandez continued her comeback from maternity leave by winning the 3000m in 9:09.29.
At the Italian Indoor Championships in Ancona, Tamberi achieved his fourth win from as many competitions this winter, winning with a first-time clearance at 2.36m.
With Marco Fassinotti pulling out as a precaution, the competition was more or less a formality for Tamberi. The 23-year-old won by 14 centimetres ahead of European indoor silver medallist Silvano Chesani.
Tamberi was initially planning to finish his indoor season at the national championships but, having set an Italian record of 2.38m last month, the world leader now fully intends to compete in Portland later this month where he is set to face the likes of reigning champion Mutaz Essa Barshim and world champion Derek Drouin from Canada in one of the anticipated highlights of the biennial event.
Tamberi, sporting his trademark ‘half beard’, also took three attempts at 2.40m but that height proved beyond his capacity this afternoon.
Alessia Trost also maintained her unbeaten run. The European indoor champion cleared 1.94m to retain her national indoor title.
Trost, who missed the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 due to a right achilles injury, also had three attempts at a season’s best of 1.97m. Like Tamberi, Trost intends to compete in Portland.
The triple jump was dominated by veterans. 36-year-old Fabrizio Schembri claimed his third consecutive national indoor title with 16.82m ahead of 39-year-old Fabrizio Donato with 16.74m.
The exploits of 16-year-old Marta Zenoni were also noteworthy. The world youth bronze medallist won a middle-distance double, clocking 2:03.88 for the 800m and 4:24.59 in the 1500m.
Kownatke upsets big names in Torun
Unheralded Rafal Kownatke upset a triumvirate of big names to win the shot put title at the Polish Indoor Championships in Torun on Sunday afternoon.
Kownatke, who didn’t progress through qualifying at the European Indoor Championships last year in his only international appearance to date, shocked Konrad Bukowiecki with a final-round throw of 20.37m. In doing so, he matched the world junior champion’s best effort of the day but won by virtue of a superior second-best mark.
Bukowiecki’s second best of the competition was 20.19m while Kownatke had already set PBs of 20.17m and 20.26m before improving for a third time in the last round.
Two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski almost sneaked the win as he improved to 20.33m in the final round but had to settle for third while pre-competition favourite Michal Haratyk, who has recorded a 21.35m put this winter, was nearly one-and-a-half metres down on his best form in fourth with 19.81m.
The women’s equivalent went to form with Paulina Guba taking the title but the 24-year-old still made a notable breakthrough. The world finalist improved her lifetime best from 17.95m to 18.63m to move to fifth on the 2016 world indoor list.
The men’s pole vault was an equally competitive event with 2011 world champion Pawel Wojciechowski and Robert Sobera both clearing 5.72m. But the latter had to cede defeat on countback by dint of a costly failure at his opening height of 5.40m.
World indoor high jump champion Kamila Licwinko also impressed with clearances at 1.85m, 1.91m and 1.94m on her first attempts to seal the domestic title. She had two attempts at a world-leading height at 1.99m followed by another unsuccessful attempt at a would-be Polish record of 2.03m.
With Ewa Swoboda drawing her indoor season to a close after the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix, Marika Popowicz won the 60m in a lifetime best of 7.20 while 2006 world junior champion Artur Noga won the 60m hurdles in 7.65.
There were a pair of fast times in the 400m finals with Lukasz Krawczuk and Justyna Swiety claiming the titles in 46.61 and 52.30 respectively.
Steven Mills for the IAAF