On the third day, the competition schedule at the European Athletics Under 23 Championships turned from qualifications
to finals, with 19 events coming to a conclusion at this session.
As usual, the men's hammer throwers had the entire stage to themselves with their mid afternoon time slot, and
although U23 season leader Pavel Krivitskiy (BLR) found his Gold medal 73.72 toss in the third round, his tall
teammate Aleksandr Kozulka tried valiantly to snare it away with long efforts in the final three rounds.
He fell marginally short with his 73.60 in the fifth round, and ended with the Silver. Kozulka's effort was still
almost 2.5 metres ahead of the opening 71.18 throw of erstwhile leader Andrey Azarenkov (RUS), which ultimately
proved to be the Bronze medal performance.
Yelena Ildeykina (RUS) had to put on a heated finish to uphold her place as the top Under 23 exponent of the
women's 400 hurdles with a 56.43 victory. Her teammate, Anastasiya Trifonova, was right behind with 56.51 to take
the Silver, while a potential Russian sweep was broken up by the resolute effort of Sian Scott (GBR), who took Bronze in
a PB 57.02.
Dora Jemaa (FRA) appeared to have run a brilliant race in lane one for the Silver medal, almost challenging Ildeykina for
the Gold, but she was later disqualified for a trailing leg violation.
Despite smashing the final barrier in the men's 400m hurdles, Rhys Williams (GBR) maintained his poise,
his balance, and his lead into the finish to win Gold in that event with a PB 49.60. The current European Junior champion
had let U23 season leader Minás Alozídis (GRE) control the early part of the race before starting his final charge.
Alozídis tried to capitalize on Williams' miscalculation but he fell short with 50.04 for the Silver, as
Ákos Dezsö (HUN) took the Bronze at 50.31 ahead of Jussi Heikkilä (FIN) with 50.39.
The top performance of the weekend so far was the powerful PB 11.03 run by María Karastamáti (GRE) in the women's
100m. Already without peer among the finalists, the Bronze medallist from last winter's European Athletics Indoor
Championships simply ran against the clock and added a U23 Championships record to her resumé.
Lina Jacques-Sébastien (FRA), a World Junior finalist last year, also recorded a career best with 11.46 for the Silver,
while Verena Sailer (GER) edged Yekaterina Butusova (RUS) for the Bronze, 11.53 to a PB of 11.54. It was a splendid
sprint final, in which six of the seven competitors equaled or established personal bests.
The men's 100m may have lacked the top mark of the women's race, but that was offset by the close finish, won by
Oudere Kankarafou (FRA) in a wind-aided 10.26, ahead of the 10.30 of his teammate, season leader
Eddy De Lépine. Stefan Wieser (GER) nipped Koura Fantoni (ITA) for the Bronze, 10.32 to 10.34.
The day's second U23 Championships record came with the 64.50 performance in the men's discus by Robert Harting
(GER), this season's leading thrower. World and European Junior finalist Piotr Malachowski (POL) won the Silver with
63.99, more than three metres ahead of the Bronze medal performance of 60.62 by Dmitriy Sivakov (BLR).
Tatyana Kivimyagi (RUS), this year's European Cup winner and the top U23 women's high jumper of the season,
barely averted being upset. With Emma Green (SWE) posting a perfect record until 1.92, the Russian needed three attempts to
clear that height. That gave her the chance to seal a win with a first jump clearance of 1.94, as Green failed once before
passing to 1.96 for her final two failures. Ariane Friedrich (GER) won the Bronze medal with 1.90.
The women's 1500m was highly tactical, as all twelve competitors stayed together for the first 1200m. Rankings leader
Nelya Neporadna (UKR) led a trio including Olesya Syreva (RUS) and Corina Dumbravean (ROM) down the back straight.
Off the final curve, the Romanian sprinted away for the Gold in 4:14.78, while Syreva and Antje Möldner (GER) both
ran round the outside for the other two medals in 4:16.23 and 4:16.34, respectively. The Ukrainian faded in the final metres and finished fourth with 4:16.54.
The men's long jump was the expected duel between list leaders Povilas Mykolaitis (LTU) and Danut Simion (ROM).
The Lithuanian took an early lead with 7.91 just before the break, but Simion responded with a PB 8.12 on his next jump
which easily held up as the Gold medal jump.
Dmitriy Sapinsky (RUS) nudged his PB out to 8.01 in the fifth round to slip in for the Silver, while Mykolaitis
improved only to 8.00 and had to be satisfied with the Bronze.
Radoslaw Poplawski (POL) used Halil Akkas (TUR) as a pacemaker over the last kilometre of the men's steeplechase before
charging away to a win with a lap remaining. The Olympic finalist took the Gold with 8:32.61 as Akkas easily held the
Silver with 8:37.38. A close race developed for the final medal, as Pieter Desmet (BEL), the early-stage tempo setter,
overhauled Mark Buckingham (GBR) at the finish, 8:41.07 to 8:41.26.
Katarzyna Kowalska (POL) assured that her country would have both of the steeplechase Gold medals as she sprinted
away over the final lap for a PB 9:54.17. Türkan Erismis (TUR) collected the Silver with a PB 9:55.45 as she
outsprinted Svetlana Ivanova (RUS) over the final 60 metres. The Russian clocked 9:56.44.
If Olga Zaytseva (RUS) was the clear favourite in the women's 400m, Christine Ohuruogu (GBR) did not get the message.
As the Russian sailed away to a big lead during the first half of the final, Ohuruogu ran conservatively on
Zaytseva's inside. But off the final turn, the British runner, the European Junior Bronze medalist two years ago,
fired up her reserve engine and ran a fearless finish, almost catching Zaytseva at the end in the most exciting race
thus far during the championships.
After an inordinately long wait for the photo finish to be analysed, Zaytseva was proclaimed the Gold medallist
in an U23 Championships record of 50.72, as Ohuruogu's 50.73 took Silver. Russians claimed the next two places,
with Yelena Nigunova clocking 51.59 for the Bronze, and Anastasiya Ovchinnikova running 52.24 for fourth.
The three medallists in the women's shot put were also the trio which had led the season by a large margin.
Petra Lammert (GER), fourth in last winter's European Athletics Indoor Championships,
started slowly but her 18.97 in the third round was enough to land the Gold medal. Lammert's teammate,
World Junior Bronze medallist Christina Schwanitz, saw a late 18.64 capture the Silver, while the final
medal went to Chiara Rosa (ITA) with 18.22.
With all runners possibly showing some fatigue after three rounds in three days - and with six of the seven
competitors running PBs yesterday - the men's 400m was taken as expected by Robert Tobin (GBR) but in a rather
routine time of 46.81. Kamghe Gaba (GER) appeared poised to challenge the British runner off the final turn,
but he faded in the home straight and took the Silver in 47.07, as Daniel Dabrowski (POL) won Bronze with 47.44.
European Indoor champion David Gillick (IRL), expected to challenge for a medal, did not compete in the final.
In the biggest upset yet at these Championships, Kevin Hautcur (FRA) sprinted past four runners over the last
20 metres and claimed the Gold in the men's 800m. His 1:51.29 was indicative of the tactical nature of the final.
Off the final curve, the dominant U23 two lap runner of the season, Manuel Olmedo (ESP), began to move ahead to
an expected win, but the Spaniard tied up halfway down the straight and was fortunate to salvage the Silver
with 1:51.47, as René Bauschinger (GER) was close to Olmedo's heels to take the Bronze in 1:51.49.
Jaroslav Ruza (CZE) and Thomas Chamney (IRL) were the next across the line in the blanket finish, as they
ran 1:51.61 and 1:51.82, respectively.
Minutes after Hautcur delivered his shock, France added another Gold when Damiel Dossevi took
the men's pole vault with a PB 5.75. Fabian Schulze, the European Junior Bronze medallist, peaked at 5.65 for
the Silver medal, while a second French vaulter, Jérôme Clavier, tied with Matti Mononen (FIN) for the Bronze at 5.60.
The women's javelin Gold and Silver went to Germans Annika Suthe and Katharina Molitor,
with bests of 57.72 and 57.01, the latter a personal best. Molitor held the lead for a short time in the fifth round, but
Suthe took it back with her big throw. Linda Brivule (LAT) was also an erstwhile leader with her second round 56.12, but
it did not hold up, and she ended with the Bronze.
Already the winner of the women's triple jump, Simone La Mantia (ITA) sprinted down the runway on the
event's final attempt and produced the day's best of 14.43. The only other jumper to leap past 14 metres was
Svetlana Bolshakova (RUS) with a PB 14.11. The Bronze medal was decided by a close duel won by Athanasía Pérra (GRE)
over Olha Saladuha (UKR), 13.94 to 13.93 as both efforts came in the penultimate round.
The final medals of the day came in the women's 10000m. Tatyana Petrova (RUS), the Silver medallist
in the 5000m in the last U23 Championships, came to the Championships with a season's best more than 40 seconds quicker
than her closest rival, so her unchallenged win in 33: 55.99 was no surprise. The Russian sprinted away from the leading
trio with four laps left, as the other two medals were decided by a sprint which made the times appear artificially close.
Volha Minina (BLR) held off Eva Maria Stöwer (GER) for the Silver, 34:03.55 to 34:05.03.