The world No.1 gains Britain’s first gold in Belgrade, while Nafissatou Thiam adds pentathlon title to her Olympic gold
Britain gained a first gold medal of the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade as Andrew Pozzi secured success in the first evening’s men’s 60m hurdles final.
The world No.1 came from behind to win a very exciting final by a hundredth of a second in 7.51.
Twice fourth in the World Indoor Championships, Pozzi won his first major title after a slow start to pip France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde.
Czech Republic’s Petr Svoboda finished third in 7.53 as Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega was a disappointing seventh in 7.64.
“Before I even took my first stride I saw that everyone had got out ahead, so my heart stopped but my head kicked into overdrive,” said the winner. “I really fought all the way. It wasn’t pretty and it was very messy, but from a poor start I thought I fought through quite well.”
Pozzi had won the first semi-final in the fastest time of 7.52 at the third attempt after two of his competitors were disqualified for false starts. David King wasn’t at his best and was sixth in the second semi in 7.70.
David Omoregie finished third in his semi-final but was slower than King with 7.71. A time of 7.65 made the final.
The women’s 60m hurdles was won at the third attempt after Isabelle Pedersen was initially disqualified for a false start but reinstated. Then the second running saw them called back again but again a green card was shown and all eight went to the line before there was another hold up.
European outdoor champion Cindy Roleder showed her competitive mettle yet again as she came back strongly over the last few hurdles to pip defending champion Alina Talay. The German won in 7.88 from her fellow World Championships medallist Talay’s 7.92.
Pre-race favourite Pamela Dutkiewicz failed to match her heat form and was third in 7.95.
The 36-year-old world record-holder Susanna Kallur qualified for the final but was last in 8.14 in a race she said would be her last ever.
She had won the event in both 2005 and 2007 and first competed in the Championships 17 years ago in 2000 when she was sixth.
In the pentathlon, Nafissatou Thiam had headed each of the first three events in the morning but she was only third best in the long jump with 6.37m, which lost ground on the world record score.
Gyorgi Zsivoczky-Farkas jumped 6.38m and Ivona Dadic 6.41m and after four events Thiam had a huge lead with 4106 points from Dadic’s 3862 and Zsivoczky-Farkas on 3842. With a 75 point gap to fourth, the medals seemed decided.
In the final event, Thiam ran a very laboured 800m and needing inside 2:15 she struggled around last. Her lead was more than halved but she won with a world-leading 4870 points to go 10th all-time.
Dadic held on to second with an Austrian record 4767, while Zsivoczky-Farkas retained third place with a PB 4723.
“I had a lot of doubts before coming here, because after Rio people are expecting a lot from me and I only wanted to come here if I was well prepared,” said Thiam. “I did my thing and in the first four events everything went great. I feel a little bad about the 800m, but I won and that’s what matters. I train to compete at championships and of course it is great to deliver a win.”
Watched by the world’s greatest pole vaulter Sergey Bubka, the event was a quality affair as six athletes cleared 5.70m and then an even more impressive five went over 5.80m and three jumped 5.85m.
World leader Piotr Lisek had a perfect record with four jumps up to 5.70m before a single failure at 5.75m. However, he cleared 5.80m and 5.85m on first attempts to maintain his advantage.
All three remaining jumpers failed to clear 5.90m.
In second place, Konstadinos Filippidis had a similar record apart from a failure at 5.35m but needed an extra jump at 5.80m. He too cleared 5.85m first time, setting a Greek record, but had to settle for second.
Poland won a second medal as former world champion Pawel Wojciechowski cleared 5.85m at the third attempt.
Defending champion and Olympic medallist Anita Marton dominated the women’s shot final. The Rio medallist opened with 18.67m, then improved to 18.96m in the second round and then a world-leading 19.24m in the third round.
Just to confirm her superiority she improved her world lead to 19.28m with the competition’s final throw.
It was closer for second as Radoslava Mavrodieva’s 18.36m PB edged Yulia Leantsiuk’s also third-round 18.32m. Fanny Roos’ 18.13m Swedish record placed her fourth.
In the women’s 1500m heats, contesting her second race of the day, Laura Muir won her heat in 4:10.28 coming late to pass Amela Terzic’s wildly acclaimed Serbian record 4:10.35. Muir was the fastest of the three winners.
Muir said of her day’s work: “I wanted to conserve as much as I could ahead of the finals tomorrow and on Sunday – home athletes always seem to pull it out the bag, so I had to keep an eye out for Amela Terzic, but I got the job done.
“You always want to win a race, so you just have to be sensible and just do what is necessary. The job is done, so I’ll just rest up now.”
In the second heat, Sarah McDonald left it late but with a strong sprint qualified automatically in second with 4:12.50. Ireland’s Ciara Mageean qualified as a fastest loser with 4:12.81.
In the women’s 400m semi-finals, former silver medallist Eilidh Doyle ran aggressively in her heat with a 24.24 first lap but her second was over four seconds slower and she was beaten by Zuzana Hejnova’s 52.74 and was caught on the line by Poland’s fast-finishing Malgorzata Holub’s 52.76. Doyle’s third place 52.81 missed out on qualifying.
Laviai Nielsen had a much softer heat and led the first lap in a fast but sensible 24.9 and held on to easily qualify second in 52.31 behind Floria Guei’s 52.20. Switzerland’s Lea Sprunger was fastest of the six qualifiers with 52.17.
The men’s triple jump saw some high quality jumping with Max Hess setting a world-leading 17.52m to head qualifying.
In the 1500m, Tom Lancashire won his heat surprisingly easily, winding up the pace well and finishing a clear first in 3:47.37.
The times were mediocre in all three heats and Germany’s Timo Benitz was fastest with 3:43.09.
In the women’s high jump qualifying, Morgan Lake made the final in style. She cleared 1.90m first time and there was no need for her or her fellow successful jumpers to go higher to the the pre-specified 1.93m as only eight were remaining at that height.
World indoor champion Pavel Maslak was the fastest in the men’s 400m semi-finals in 46.45. It was frustrating to note with no Britons competing that 47.24 proved sufficient to make the final. Six Britons have run faster indoors this winter.
In the 3000m heat one, Britain’s Nick Goolab went ahead on the fifth lap to lead through 1000m in 2:45.7 and then tucked in and looked good until the final kilometre when he faded to a non qualifying sixth in 8:02.49.
Heat one winner Jonas Leanderson of Sweden was fastest overall with 7:54.93.