Full report of day two from European Indoor Championships
Holly Bleasdale said her confidence was riding so high that she turned down the chance of sharing a gold medal on her way to beating Poland’s Anna Rogowska into second in a dramatic pole vault jump-off.
Bleasdale’s win represented Britain’s first medal of the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg, while the second day of three was ended by compatriot James Dasaolu taking silver in the 60m.
The UK record-holder and Rogowska were locked together on an equal number of failures as they both cleared a best height of 4.67m. On her third failure at 4.72m, Bleasdale waved to ground thinking she had finished second, but then was told by officials they could share the victory or fight it out.
“I think we had the option to share the gold medal or do a jump-off and I wanted to do the jump-off,” she said some time after sealing victory with 4.67m. “I don’t know why I did it, but I was in the moment and I felt really good and thought if I got my jump together I could clear the bar easily. I thought instead of sharing gold, why not get it for myself and I’m glad I did that.
“If most people had the option to do that, I would have thought they would do it. I feel so confident in my ability and I was really positive, so thought why not take the risk?”
Having gone into the competition as the European No.1 and favourite, she and Rogowska were the only ones to go clear at 4.67m. Both had one failure each up until that point so when neither could clear 4.72m within the standard three attempts, it came down to sudden-death.
Both failed an added effort at 4.72m so the bar was then lowered back down to 4.67m. Rogowska failed but with the pressure on Bleasdale took her first major senior title.
It was even closer in the men’s 60m in the battle for gold, but this time a Brit was the one to lose out. However, James Dasaolu was justifiably delighted with his silver medal as he shared a world-leading time of 6.48 with winner Jimmy Vicaut of France.
Despite the photo-finish verdict not going his way, Dasaolu went to fourth on the UK all-time list behind Dwain Chambers, Jason Gardener and Linford Christie. All three had won this title and when Dasaolu improved his PB from 6.58 to 6.53 in the semi, it seemed he could join them.
However, it was the 2011 European junior champion who prevailed as Italy’s Michael Tumi was third with 6.52. Harry Aikines-Aryeetey set a season’s best of 6.63 in finishing seventh.
Dasaolu, who went to equal 20th on the world all-time list, said: “I’m still trying to take it in really. I’ve just run 6.48, which is a really quick time, and on top of that I got a silver. At the beginning of the championships I wouldn’t have thought 6.48 would have got silver but I’m just happy to be injury-free and enjoying competing.”
The London 2012 Olympic semi-finalist broke through with 10.09 in 2009 but has not improved since, although on this form will be hoping to break 10 seconds this summer.
British high jumper Robbie Grabarz suffered a bad day at the office as he placed down in sixth with only 2.23m. The Olympic bronze medallist had gone into the event as one of the favourites and had a season’s best of 2.31m but had three failures at 2.27m.
Two Russians had led the European rankings going into the competition, but it was Sergey Mudrov, with a best clearance of 2.35m who surprised the more favoured Aleksiy Dmitrik (2.33m).
Britain’s Shara Proctor held third from the first round but was denied bronze in the final round, knocked down into fourth by Sweden’s PB-setting Erica Jarder.
Russia’s Darya Klishina defended her title in a competition which was scinitillating from the off. Eloyse Lesueur set a French record in the fifth jump of the first round with 6.85m. However, that lead was to last a couple of minutes as Klishina was next on the runway and on her way to the first seven-metre jump at the European Indoors since 1994.
A couple of jumps later and Proctor went out to 6.68m and, only improving by a centimetre, she stayed in third until the last round.
Meanwhile, Lesueur advanced her national record to 6.87m and finally 6.90m, but more drama came when the home favourite Jarder leaped 6.71m. Proctor’s subsequent foul was greeted by cheers from the partisan crowd, who greeted Sweden’s first medal of the weekend.
Better news came for GB in the 400m where Perri Shakes-Drayton won the faster of the two heats. Her time of 51.03 off a 23.99 first 200m has been beaten this year only by American Natasha Hastings with 50.88.
However, she was closely pursued by fellow hurdler Zuzana Hejnova of Ukraine, who clocked 51.27 to take nine tenths off her PB indoors or outdoors.
Shakes-Drayton’s chances of gold had already looked increased after the first semi-final in which the then European No.1 Kseniya Ustalova of Russia tripped and fell at 400m. Romania’s Angela Morasanu crossed the line first with 52.24, followed five hundredths later by Britain’s Eilidh Child, who also qualified for the final.
Britain’s Shana Cox set a season’s best of 52.86 and was later elevated to third and a final placing after the disqualification of Morasanu for the infringement involving Ustalova.
Brits will also take up half of the six lanes in the men’s 400m final after Nigel Levine, Richard Strachan and Michael Bingham made the first three from their respective semis.
However, it is Pavel Maslak of Czech Republic who looks the favourite as he eased down to 46.18 in beating Levine (46.50).
Pavel Trenikhin of Russia went even quicker in the second semi-final with 46.00. However, it was a double dose of disappointment for Ireland’s Brian Gregan. He was tripped with at the bell and then as he lay on the ground on the infield lost his European-leading mark. Almost as impressive as Trenikhin’s time was the speed of the medics in treating Gregan, who had ice on his ankle before the athlete were around the far end of the track.
Strachan with 46.88 and Bingham with 46.91 were next across the line in that heat.
Mukhtar Mohammed won the second semi-final of the 800m to go through to the final comfortably, but fellow Brit Joe Thomas went out in fourth place in his heat.
Mohammed, the European No.2 behind compatriot Michael Rimmer who went out in the heats, clocked 1:49.89 – slower than Thomas, who left himself too much to do in the home straight.
After injury blighted her campaign last year, Jenny Meadows looked more like her old self in the women’s semi-finals. The defending champion won her heat in 2:01.02, but Russia’s Tatyana Kotulskaya, who won the other semi, will start favourite for the final.
Vying for performance of the day was Italy’s Daniele Greco, who went to 10th on the world all-time list with 17.70m in the triple jump.
His world-leading mark of 17.70m in the fourth round was just two centimetres short of the Italian indoor record set by Fabrizio Donato in winning silver two years ago.
Forty centimetres clear of the field, he smashed his previous best of 17.47, which was set outdoors.
However, the most dominant performance of the day and perhaps in the history of the European Indoor Championships, was by 1500m runner Abeba Aregawi, who delighted the crowd with a home victory by more than nine seconds.
The Ethiopian-born athlete, who has lived in Stockholm with her husband since 2009, secured a massive lead early on and the bell effectively began her lap of honour in front of the delighted spectators.
Making her first appearance in the yellow vest since her switch of allegiance was approved this winter, her time of 4:04.47 was impressive. However, it was a mere jog compared to the 3:58.40 she ran in Stockholm earlier this year when she missed the world indoor record by only 0.12 seconds.
In what was virtually a separate race, Spain’s Isabel Macias took silver and Poland’s Katarzyna Broniatowska gained bronze. Britain’s Laura Muir was eighth with 4:18.39.
Azerbaijan’s first gold medal in the history of these championships came dint of another former Ethiopian in the shape of Hayle Ibrahimov.
After winning silver two years ago, he justified his favouritism by with a front-running performance, stopping the clock on 7:59.74. In the battle for silver, Spain’s Juan Carlos Higuero passed Ireland’s Ciaran O’Lionaird to clock 7:50.26.
After four events of seven in the men’s heptathlon, Serbia’s Mihail Dudas leads by 32 points on 3476.