Russia take three of four titles decided on the second day of competition.
The first medals of the European Athletics Under 23 Championships were decided late in the afternoon as last year's
World Junior champion, Irina Petrova (RUS), out dueled countrywoman Olga Kaniskina to win the women's 20km walk.
Petrova's winning time of 1:33:24 was only nine seconds ahead of Kaniskina's 1:33:33. Claiming the Bronze medal
was Barbora Dibelková (CZE) in 1:34.44.
The Russian pair alternated leading for most of the race. Only for some moments during the first five kilometres
was Dibelková heading the group.
Olga Kaniskina and Irina Petrova
The women's heptathlon Gold medal was never really out of the reach of Laurien Hoos (NED) over the two days. The
blonde Dutch athlete had a 20 second margin of error in the final event, the 800m, but she clearly was not content
to back into the title. Following the fast 2:11.94 pace of Lilli Schwarzkopf (GER), the eventual Silver medallist
with 6196, Hoos put on a final sprint to clock a PB 2:21.76 for a total of 6291 points and a new championship record.
After a near disaster in the long jump, where her first two efforts were fouls, Hoos bore down and threw 49.77 in
the javelin, second only to the 50.21 of Schwarzkopf as the German made her move into the Silver medal position at this point.
Olga Levenkova (RUS) ran 2:15.04 for an aggregate 5950 to claim the Bronze medal.
Never before had the U23 Championships produced multiple 8000 point scores in the men's decathlon. Today, two
athletes eclipsed the event's benchmark level, as Aleksey Drozdov (RUS) took the title with 8202 points.
The three medal aspirants had separated themselves by the end of the first day, but they staged an exciting
roller-coaster ride over the last three events to determine the final medal distribution.
Aleksey Sysoyev and Aleksey Drozdov
Going into the pole vault, the eighth event, Aleksey Sysoyev held a 121 point lead over his Russian compatriot
Drozdov, and a 221-point margin over Norman Müller (GER). The German's PB 4.80 was the leading performance,
but Drozdov countered with a PB 4.70 which moved him to within four points of Sysoyev, as the younger athlete
could only manage 4.30.
Drozdov shot to the overall lead with the best javelin throw, 63.97, and his 67 point lead over Sysoyev, after
the latter's 59.30, gave him some breathing space with the 1500m upcoming. Meanwhile, Müller completely dropped
out of the race for the top two medals after a 53.06 fling.
Drozdov and Sysoyev held fast to their Gold and Silver medal positions, with final totals of 8196 and 8089, while
Müller ran his 1500 furiously and ended with a PB 4:34.01. That extra effort unfortunately was not enough to permit
the German to join the other new members of the "8000-point club" as he finished with 7989. The point totals for
Drozdov and Müller were personal bests, while Sysoyev was only a single point under his highest ever total.
In the men's 10000m final, Yevgeniy Rybakov (RUS) broke open a three person race with 200m remaining to win the Gold
in 29:30.76. The Russian was locked in a battle with André Pollmächer (GER) and current European Junior champion
Marius Ionescu (ROM).
As the bell sounded, the three picked up the pace but stayed together until 250m remained. Rybakov and Pollmächer
moved away from Ionescu at that point, and with a half lap left, the Russian showed the last of his many finely tuned
gears. Pollmächer's Silver medal performance was 29:33.22, while Ionescu's PB 29:34.52 took the Bronze.
Rybakov's twin brother Anatoliy will try for an unprecedented U23 "brother double gold" in the men's 5000m on Sunday.
If the men's 400m semi finals were any indication, tomorrow's final should be excellent. Six of the eight
finalists set or equaled PBs in the two races today.
Heavy favourite Robert Tobin led the qualifiers with 45.64, and he pulled Daniel Dabrowski (POL) and Dimítrios
Grávalos (GRE) to respective PBs of 45.93 and 45.99. European Indoor champion David Gillick (IRL) held on in that
heat for fourth in 46.03 and will also be part of Saturday's race.
With his second PB in as many days, Konstantin Svechkar (RUS) clocked 46.09 to lead three others into unchartered
territory. Benefiting from the Russian's pace were Kamghe Gaba (GER) in 46.24, Piotr Zrada (POL) with 46.27 and
David Testa (ESP) at 46.35.
The men's shot put qualification featured two competitors with season bests over 20 metres and, predictably, they
headed the list for Sunday's final. Taavi Peetre (EST) led the competition with a single effort 19.47, as the current
European Junior Silver medallist, Anton Lyuboslavskiy (RUS), followed with a throw of 19.05.
Robert Dippl (GER) chose the occasion for a PB 18.81 to join the top qualifiers, which also include last year's
World Junior champion, Georgi Ivanov (BUL), with 18.76, as the elimination round produced no major casualty.
Yelena Yakovleva (RUS) showed herself to be the person to beat in the women's 200m heats with a powerful 23.06 PB
while battling a 1.5m/s headwind. She also pulled Nikolett Listár (HUN) to a PB 23.45 and a spot in Sunday's final.
Vincenza Calí (ITA) was the other heat winner with 23.55, as Olha Andreyeva (UKR) at 23.67 and Aurélie Kamga (FRA)
with 23.99 completed the quintet of runners breaking the 24 second limit.
All season long, current European Junior champion Sebastian Ernst (GER) has been seeking the 20.59 Helsinki A
qualifying standard in the men's 200m. Who would have thought that it would have come in a qualifying heat, and
while running in lane three?
Ernst [meaning "serious" in German] proved that his family name is an accurate description of his determination
with an overwhelming 20.54 heat win to lead all of the qualifiers.
David Alerte (FRA) appeared to value Ernst's example in the final section, winning with a PB 20.69, as Florin Suciu
(ROM) equaled his lifetime best with a second-place 20.91.
The opening heat also went to the host Germans as Till Helmke, a double medallist at the last European Junior championships,
won in 20.76 from the outside lane.
Relatively unheralded but still the U23 season leader, Yevgeniya Zolotova (RUS) posted the fastest time while opening the
women's 800m heats with 2:02.89, just ahead of World Junior finalist Elodie Guegan (FRA) in 2:03.07.
Next up was the European Junior Bronze medallist, Jemma Simpson (GBR), who strode home first in 2:03.58, followed by
successful PB runs by Aina Valatkeviciute (LTU) in 2:04.29 and Eléni Filándra (GRE) with 2:04.37.
Following those two fast heats came an oft medalled runner, Lucia Klocová (SVK). A Silver medallist in both the last
U23 Championships and also the 2002 World Juniors, Klocová showed the experience of a veteran as she gauged her finish
precisely so that her 2:04.19 winning performance was just sufficient to nip Marilyn Okoro (GBR) with 2:04.23 and Binnaz
Uslu (TUR) at 2:04.27, as all three advanced.
With Russians occupying the top six places on the season U23 list in the women's 400 metres - and with the top three in
the competition here - a medal sweep on Saturday seems quite possible.
Olga Zaytseva led the Russian charge with a 51.69, as compatriots Yelena Migunova in 51.82 and Anastasiya Ovchinnikova
with 52.53, completed the heat sweep. Timewise, only Christine Ohuruogu (GBR) disrupted the Russians' perfection, as
she followed Zaytseva closely for a season best 51.85.
Joining Ohuruogu in the final will be teammate Kim Wall (second behind Migunova in 51.82).
With only sixteen competitors in the men's javelin, the qualifying round was practically unneeded. Former World Junior
Silver medallist Vladislav Shkurlatov (RUS) dominated the competition with a PB 81.14, the only effort over 80 metres.
U23 list leader Teemu Wirkkala (FIN) advanced with a tepid 74.85, which was bettered by teammate Tero Järvenpää, the
European Junior Silver medalist two years ago, at 78.88. -
Antti Ruuskanen, who took the European Bronze behind Järvenpää, completed the Finnish trio advancing to Sunday's final
with 72.76. Also included in the top twelve was a former World Junior champion, Igor Janik (POL), with 75.98.
The top two on the U23 men's triple jump list also rose to the top of that event's qualifying, also with only sixteen
competitors, as the two bounding Russian Aleksandrs - Petrenko and Sergeyev - each took a single jump of 16.56 and 16.24,
Others making the cut included the top two medallists from the last European Athletics Junior Championships, Nelson Évora
(POR) with 16.39 and Dmitriy Detsuk (BLR) at 16.16.
A tight heat finish in the men's 1500m brought the event's top time as Daniel Spitzl (AUT) led a group of four runners in
3:44.43. In close order came Yared Shegumo (POL) with 3:44.46 and the British pair of Chris Warburton and Tom Lancashire,
respectively in 3:44.53 and 3:44.63.
Arturo Casado (ESP), who finished fourth at last winter's European Athletics Indoor Championships, won the other heat in
3:44.90, as Erfurt athlete Stefan Eberhardt (GER) used the familiar setting for a qualifying 3:45.44.