First golds of the European Junior Championships awarded with wins for Mesud Pezer, Anezda Drahotová and Ali Kaya
The first day of action at the European Junior Championships in Rieti, Italy, saw three finals, with all gold medallists - Mesud Pezer, Anezda Drahotová and Ali Kaya - setting respective national junior records on their way to victory.
The championships kicked off with Czech twins Anezda and Eliska Drahotová claiming two medals in the women’s 10,000m walk, a race that saw 13 of the 19 finishing athletes claim personal best times. Anezka bettered her own national junior record in clocking 44:15.87 for gold as Russia’s Oxana Golyatkina followed her home in a 44:21.03 personal best for silver, before Eliska claimed the final medal thanks to a personal best of 44:45.27.
A championship record followed in the next final on the track, the men’s 10,000m. Turkey’s Ali Kaya (former Kenyan Stephen Kiprotich) finished almost a minute clear of second-placed Lorenzo Dini of Italy, who claimed the host nation’s first medal, 28:31.16 to 29:31.11.
The day’s final event saw that there was excitement right until the very end of the first day. With Kaya having lapped the field, Russia’s Mikhail Strelkov was caught out when he thought he had finished for silver when in fact he still had another lap to go. Dino Bosnjak of Croatia came through for bronze in 29:59.07 as Strelkov followed him over the line with 30:58.49.
Pezer of Bosnia went into the shot competition leading the rankings and came out of it with that leading status intact as he claimed his nation’s first ever European Junior Championships medal. In a competition that saw the top three all break the 20m mark, Pezer claimed gold thanks to his final round throw of 20.44, though his second-best throw of 20.26m in the fifth round would also have been just enough to claim victory ahead of Croatia’s Filip Mihaljevic (20.23m) and Poland’s Andrzej Regin (20.07PB).
Belgian athlete Nafissatou Thiam leads the heptathlon at the end of day one with 3774 points, 74 points ahead of Sweden’s Sofia Linde, with PBs in the 100m hurdles (13.87) and shot (14.26m) helping her on her way. Nadine Visser of the Netherlands finished the day 125 points clear of fourth-placed Marjolein Lindemans of Belgium.
Having run 11.26 and 11.62 respectively to qualify as the two quickest in the women’s 100m heats, Stella Akakpo of France and Britain’s Sophie Papps repeated the feat in the semi-finals, Akakpo qualifying for Friday’s final as quickest thanks to her 11.39 clocking in the first semi, ahead of Papps who recorded 11.77 to win the second.
Bulgaria’s Denis Dimitrov went into the competition as the top ranked junior so far this year and ran 10.47 in the first men’s 100m semi-final to qualify for the final as quickest. But it was Britain’s Chijundu Ujah and Zdenek Stromsik of the Czech Republic who came out on top in the heats, the Brit clocking a season’s best 10.32 to win heat 5 before going on to record 10.50 in the second semi. Ujah will be joined by compatriot Josh Cox in Friday’s final, his 10.67 enough to secure his spot as he finished behind Germany’s Robert Polkowski in the third semi.
Other Brits to qualify for finals action on Friday include Shandine Duquemin in the discus, her 46.97m just enough to see her through in a field led by Poland’s Karolina Makul with 51.79m, and Elliot Safo and Feron Sayers in the long jump, thanks to their respective leaps of 7.62m and 7.33m. The men’s pole vault also saw two British athletes qualify for the final, Rowan May equalling his PB of 5.05m and Daniel Gardner clearing 4.95m to see them through.
GB will have three representatives in the men’s 1500m final as Jake Wightman (3:43.95), Shaun Wyllie (3:45.02) and Matt Mclaughlin (3:50.83) all qualified. Fresh from her 10,000m walk victory earlier in the day, Anezda Drahotová was back on the track in the women’s 3000m steeplechase semi-finals where she qualified for the final alongside the likes of Britain’s Amy-Eloise Neale and Katie Ingle.
In an 800m without Jess Judd, Icelandic runner Aníta Hinriksdóttir was free to dominate, fresh from winning the World Youth title in Donetsk. She qualified as fastest for the final with her 2:02.61 ahead of a field including Germany’s Katharina Trost and Olena Sidorska of the Ukraine.
» For full results from Rieti see here