Olympic champion attempts pole vault world record but gets gold with championship best performance, while Pavel Maslák pleases Prague crowd and GB athletes win two more medals
There was another world record attempt at the European Indoor Championships on Saturday as Renaud Lavillenie raised the bar to 6.17m in an attempt to better his own pole vault mark in Prague.
The Frenchman, who cleared 6.16m last winter, came close but had to settle for a championship record of 6.04m which secured him his fourth consecutive European Indoors title. He adds this gold to his three European outdoor wins, his world indoor gold from 2012 and his Olympic title claimed in London in 2012.
After first-time clearances at 5.75m and 5.90m, Lavillenie took two attempts at 6.04m before trying the would-have-been world record height. Both minor medallists cleared 5.85m, Russia’s Aleksandr Gripich securing silver with a PB on countback ahead of Poland’s Piotr Lisek. Lavillenie’s younger brother, Valentin, cleared a best of 5.65m for sixth.
Not long after and the O2 Arena crowd again went wild as host nation favourite Pavel Maslák successfully defended his 400m title in a championship record time of 45.33.
The 24-year-old, who won the world indoor title last winter, ran a 20.99 first lap on his way to winning the Czech Republic’s first gold medal of the championships.
There were personal best performances by the next three athletes over the line – silver going to Belgium’s Dylan Borlée with 46.25 and bronze to Poland’s Rafal Omelko with 46.26.
“I think I was a little bit over-motivated today,” said Maslák. “But the atmosphere and the support was unbelievable. I was in much better shape compared to the Gothenburg championships (in 2013) so I was not that nervous. But mentally it was much more difficult than in 2013.
“I am very thankful I had the chance to please the home crowd and to feel such an emotional atmosphere of the event.”
Ali Kaya broke Mo Farah’s 3000m championship record on his way to winning the title ahead of Britain’s Lee Emanuel. Kaya’s 7:38.42 saw him cross the line more than six seconds clear as Emanuel clocked a 7:44.48 PB that puts him fourth on the UK indoor all-time list.
“The way the race went I don’t think I could have done any better to be honest,” commented Emanuel. “I wanted to win, I thought I could win, but I think I underestimated how good that Turkish guy is. Sometimes you’ve just got to take your hat off and say he was better than me today.”
Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen, who returns to the O2 Arena track to contest the 1500m final on Sunday, bagged bronze with a 7:45.54 national record.
Over in the women’s final and Laura Muir clearly gave it everything she could, the Scottish runner finishing just outside the medals with 8:52.44 for fourth in a race won by Russia’s Yelena Korobkina in 8:47.62. A personal best performance secured Sviatlana Kudzelich of Belarus the silver, her 8:48.02 seeing her cross the line more than three seconds clear of Netherlands’ Maureen Koster. Muir’s team-mate Emelia Gorecka ran 9:06.79 for 12th.
There was some pushing and shoving as athletes approached the line in the women’s 400m final but Seren Bundy-Davies stayed safe and ahead of the trouble to win bronze from lane two.
The Birmingham Grand Prix winner, who leads the European rankings with 51.72, clocked 52.64 for a podium place behind winner Nataliya Pyhyda of Ukraine and Spain’s European outdoor bronze medallist Indira Terrero.
After claiming world indoor bronze and European outdoor silver last year, Ivana Spanovic won long jump gold in Prague, the 24-year-old leaping a Serbian record of 6.98m.
Germany’s Sosthene Taroum Moguenara secured silver with 6.83m, while Romania’s Florentina Marincu bagged bronze with 6.79m. That mark is listed on the official results as a European junior record, however two athletes have leapt further as under-20s. AW ‘s former web editor Jon Mulkeen has explained the new record system here.
Portugal’s Nelson Évora adds the Euro Indoors triple jump title to his 2008 Olympic and 2007 world golds after a best leap of 17.21m. Pablo Torrijos got the silver with a Spanish record of 17.04m and Romania’s Marian Oprea the bronze with 16.91m.
Russia’s Mariya Kuchina won a jump off with Alessia Trost of Italy to take the high jump gold, with both athletes having cleared 1.97m. Poland’s Kamila Licwinko, who leads the European rankings with her 2.02m clearance, failed all three attempts at the winning height but bagged bronze after making it over 1.94m on her first attempt.
Last winter Kuchina had shared world indoor gold with Licwinko after the athletes agreed to the joint title rather than a jump off in Sopot.
Anita Márton threw a Hungarian record of 19.23m to win shot put gold as silver was claimed by Belarusian thrower Yuliya Leantsiuk with 18.60m. Bronze went to Bulgaria’s Radoslava Mavrodieva who managed a best of 17.83m.
With a fourth-place finish in the first 800m semi-final, Jenny Meadows hadn’t secured herself a spot in Sunday’s final. However, the British team lodged an appeal after second-placed Anastasiya Bazdyreva of Russia stepped off the track in order to pass Iceland’s world youth and European junior champion Aníta Hinriksdóttir on the inside in a race won by Switzerland’s Selina Büchel in 2:01.92.
The appeal was successful, and Meadows, Hinriksdóttir and Büchel will be joined in the final by Ukraine’s Nataliya Lupu, who won the second semi final in 2:08.15, together with Poland’s Joanna Jóźwik and Yekaterina Poistogova of Russia.
Guy Learmonth ran a fine 800m semi-final, clocking 1:50.50 to win and progress along with Ireland’s Mark English. Sweden’s Andreas Almgren won the second semi-final in 1:47.24, while the third was taken by Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski in 1:50.10.
Russia’s Ilya Shkurenyov, Germany’s Arthur Abele and Pawel Wiesiolek of Poland fill the top three spots in the heptathlon with three events to go.
» For full results see www.european-athletics.org