Novi Sad Day 1 mid-day wrap: Russian walker Alembekova takes first gold
|Russia's Elmira Alembekova cools down on her way
to winning the 10km Walk gold at the European
Athletics Junior Championships in Novi Sad, Serbia,
Alembekova notched up Russia's fifth consecutive victory at the event. In fact, no other country has stood on top of the medal podium since the discipline's distance was lengthened from 5000m to 10000m in 2001.
"I finished 20 seconds behind my fellow Russian Tatyana Mineyeva at the world juniors last year and she would have been the favourite but she had to withdraw a few days ago with a bad throat infection. I knew it was my big chance and I wasn't going to let it go so I decided to walk fast from the start even though it was very hot," said the diminutive Alembekova.
She held a seven-second lead over her compatriot Nina Okhotnikova at the 4000m mark, with Romania's Adriana Turnea another seven seconds further back after an audacious attempt to stay with the Russians over the opening kilometres.
Alembekova passed the halfway point in 22:48.33 and gradually increased her lead as she circled the track.
With six laps to go, her advantage over Okhotnikova was exactly the length of the home straight, although the heat was starting to take its toll even on the leader as her lap speed started to slightly decrease.
Okhotnikova, who was to finish third, wilted in the final three laps as Italy's Antonella Palmisano walked an excellent second half of the race to overtake Turnea at 5600m and then Okhotnikova just after the bell to take the silver medal in 46:59.47.
Daniel Gardiner is aiming to become Great Britain's first European junior champion in the Decathlon since a certain Daley Thompson in 1977 and leads the event by one point after two events, tallying 1974 points. He showed his mettle by following up his 10.97 100m by jumping a personal best of 7.47m in the Long Jump. Austria's Dominik Distelberger was second on 1973 points after a 10.88 100m and 7.38m Long Jump.
The two favourites in the men's blue riband 100m stretched their legs in the first round, with French sprinter Christophe Lemaître, the world junior 200m champion in 2008, easing through in the morning's best time of 10.44.
Equally untroubled was Azerbaijan's Ramil Guliyev, who ran 10.08 recently, with 10.58 sufficing for victory in his heat.
It's too early to truly assess form but Italy's Delmas Obou also looked good with the second fastest first round time of 10.51, a personal best despite a poor start.
Five men went over the automatic qualifying height of 2.15m in the men's High Jump but Spain's Miguel Angel Sancho, third at last year's World Junior Championships, and the European under-20 leader after clearing 2.25m earlier this summer and 2.27m indoors, still looks to be recovering after being injured at the European Clubs Cup last month and in his first competition since then could only clear 2.10m, although he eventually did progress to Saturday's final.
Romanian Hammer thrower Bianca Perie is the reigning European junior champion, and also the 2008 World Junior Championships gold medallist. She embarked on the road to defending her European crown by throwing 63.71 with her first effort to quickly and easily qualify for Friday's final, more than three metres further than Britain's Sophie Hitchon, the next best qualifier with 60.68m.
Germany's Yasmin Kwadwo was the fastest women in the 100m first round with 11.69, her gold medal chances improved by the non-arrival in Novi Sad of Great Britain's Ashlee Nelson, Europe's fastest teenager with 11.36, who is suffering continual problems with a recurring quadriceps injury.
Britain's Chris Clarke was the fastest man from the four heats of the 400m first round with 46.87, with the second quickest being Slovenia's Erik Voncina in a national junior record of 46.96.