Russians tune-up for Euro indoors in Yekaterinburg | 09.01.2013
|Yuriy Borzakovskiy produced a win in the 1000m in
Yekaterinburg, while Valentin Smirnov claimed an impressive
victory in the 3000m.
The event is seen as the real start of the Russian indoor season and with the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Gothenburg less than two months away, Smirnov has begun in fine style with a superb win in the 3000m in 7:48.94.
Not only was it a personal best from Smirnov, 26, but it was even quicker than his outdoor time for the distance which stands at 7:49.11.
With his teammate Yegor Nidolaev second in 7:51.42 and Salomon Barngetuny third in 7:55.04, the victory for Smirnov rose him to third in the all-time Russian rankings.
A bronze medallist in the 1500m at the World University Games in Shenzhen in 2011, Smirnov has made an impact on the European scene in the past, too - finishing third over 3000m in the SPAR European Team Championships in Bergen the previous year and second in the 1500m at the same competition 12 months later in Stockholm.
Always one of the stars of the show, Yuriy Borzakovskiy did not let the crowd down with a good win in the 1000m, and the formidable middle-distance Russian will be among the favourites for glory in Gothenburg.
The 2004 Olympic 800 champion has twice won the European indoor title over that distance - in Ghent in 2000 and Torino nine years later - and it would be another brilliant achievement if he was to prove age - he is now 31 - remains no barrier. As he did last summer, of course, to triumph outdoors at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki.
New Year, but same style as Borzakovskiy remained at the back of the field before slowly making his mark with 300m left to charge through to win in 2:24.27.
Pavel Trenikhin won the 500m in 1:02.34 and Aleksey Kening took the 300m in 33.6 while there were two victories for guest runners as Patrick Chinedu, of Nigeria, triumphed over 60m in 6.75 and Kazakhstan's Sergey Zasimovich cleared 2.24m in the high jump.
Remember the name Natalya Danilova, because just a few days into 2013 she could become one of the stars of the year.
That will be the case if she maintains the form of her impressive run at the Yalamov Memorial where she won the 500m in 1:10.91, beating teammate Olesya Forsheva (nee Krasnomovets) who was second in 1:11.20.
Danilova, 21, is a versatile athlete, running between 200m and 800m last year, but this victory is one of the best of her career because Forsheva was the world indoor champion in 2006 and has both gold and silver medals from the 4x400m at world and Olympic level respectively.
But Danilova's performance was not alone among the eye-catching displays of the Russian women.
Yekaterina Poistogova, also 21, had an outstanding 2012 when she was third in the 800m at the Olympic Games in London and there is no doubt she wants go climb even higher up the podium this year.
She has started in style too with a fine win in this meeting over 1000m in 2:39.61.
Svetlana Kireyeva took the 2000m in 5:44.08, beating leading miler Yelena Soboleva who was second in 5:46.36 while Kseniya Ustalova, who won silver at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona in 2010, won the 300m in in 36.76, Nadezhda Paleyeva triumphed in 7.38 in the 60m and Svetlana Topylina won the 80m hurdles in 8.17.