Bahta has the speed as longer challenge awaits

Meraf Bahta
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Meraf Bahta claimed European 5000m gold two years ago in Zurich and is preparing to defend her title at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam. 

With Amsterdam so close, fine-tuning is important and it is why Sweden’s Meraf Bahta should feel in a good shape following her win at the Sollentuna Grand Prix on Tuesday night.

She triumphed in front of her home crowd over 1500m in 4:05.97 from Ethiopia’s Axumawit Embaye (4:06.00) and Bahrain’s Tigist Gashaw (4:06.53).

Two years ago in Zurich, Bahta fended off the challenge of Sifan Hassan, of the Netherlands, to win European 5000m gold and she looks ready to defend her crown next week in Amsterdam.

In the men's 1500m, it was a night to remember at this European Athletics Outdoor Classic meeting for Bahta’s teammates.

In a race won by Moroccan Brahim Kaazouzi in 3:36.46, Sweden took second and third as both Johan Rogestedt and Jonas Leanderson took big chunks out of their personal best.

Rogestedt lowered his time from 3:40.29 to 3:36.58 and Leanderson cut his from 3:39.37 to 3:36.92 as they prepare for Amsterdam in brilliant fashion.

 Dutchwoman Sanna Verstegen showed her fine form as she broke the meeting record to win the 800m in 2:00.74 with her quickest time of the year as she beat America’s Claudia Sanders (2:02.14) and Sweden’s Anna Silvander (2:02.64).

Sweden had a number of other winners, with Elin Westerlund running an impressive pre-Amsterdam personal best of 13.11 for victory in the 100m hurdles and Angelica Bengtsson going over at 4.61m in the pole vault, a season’s best and a mark that takes her to eighth on the European rankings.

Daniel Stahl won the discus (63.42m), Khaddi Sagnia was first in the long jump (6.58m) and Sofie Skoog took the high jump (1.89m).

Italy’s Giordano Benedetti, fresh from his selection for the European Athletics Championships, won the 800m in 1:46.66 from Morocco’s Abdellatif El Guesse (1:46.91) and Slovenia’s Zan Rudolf (1:46.98).

65th Cork City Sports

Irish 50km walkers Robert Heffernan and Alex Wright have the Olympic Games in focus as they prepare for Rio and on Tuesday night at the 65th Cork City Sports meeting, they went head-to-head over 3000m as they build up their speed.

Heffernan is the 2013 world champion and London Olympic bronze medallist but it was a memorable evening for Wright at this European Athletics Outdoor Area Permit meeting as he won in the fastest time in the world this year.

Wright was first in 11:13.94 from Heffernan in 11:18.65 and Poland’s Grzegorz Sudol, the 2010 European 50km silver medallist, who was third in 11.29.15.

Sudol’s fellow Pole Karolina Zawila won the long jump (5.93m) and Ireland’s Elizabeth Morland won the 100m hurdles (13.68).

Alex Wright & Robert Heffernan in training: