The men and women of Fenerbahce Sport Club had a day of celebration in Brno, Czech Republic on Saturday (16) as they won the men’s and women’s trophies at the ECCC Track & Field U20 Group A.
And amid the rain, what drama there was with both 4x400m relays proving decisive as the Turkish teams earned narrow victories ahead of the continent’s best clubs.
In the men’s competition, Fenerbahce won by just four points - with 115 - as they beat Denmark’s Sparta AM to lift a trophy they last lifted in 2014. The margin of victory in the women’s competition was even narrower, as only three points separated Fenerbahce from the hosts AK Olymp Brno - 110-107 - as they took the crown for the fourth year in a row.
But there was disappointment for Lithuanian club Nike Klaipeda who were relegated from both the men’s and women’s Group A after finishing second from bottom in both. Italian club Fiamme Gialle Simoni and Slovenian club AD Mass Ljubljana
In the men’s 4x400m relay, the Turkish quartet did just enough in the final event of the day to ensure the team title was theirs as they combined to finish fourth in 3:32.01.
It brought them five points but they were only two places away from Sparta, anchored by Andreas Lindgreen in second in 3:19.85 for seven points. It was not enough to make up the gap in a race won by Spain’s Playas de Castellon in 3:18.64.
And as so often in these team competitions, it was not about a mass of first places in the individual events being crucial for success. Fenerbahce’s men won three of the disciplines to bank eight points each time but scored important runner-up spots - and seven points - in seven events.
In gloomy conditions, the event was given a great start by one of the leading young field eventers in Europe. It was always going to take something special to dislodge Belarusian hammer thrower Aliaksandr Shymanovich from winning for Sport Lisboa e Benfica and so it proved to be the case.
Shymanovich launched the device out to 72.31m with his opening effort before improving to 75.62m with his final throw. His series also included 74.43m and 69.97m to secure eight points ahead of Fenerbahce’s Hakan Mert Sozudiri, who finished second with 63.26m.
But Fenerbahce’s men gained maximum points in the 110m hurdles from Aktas Furkan (14.18), the high jump from Alperen Acet (2.15m) and Huseyin Ocak in the long jump (7.09m). It was an able cast that supported them by finishing second in their events.
Sparta stayed close throughout as Tobias G. Larsen also won the 100m in a superb 10.77, one of the results of the day, and anchored the 4x100m relay to victory in 41.55. William Devantier also took the 800m in 1:54.84.
1. Fenerbahce Sport Club (TUR) 115
2. Sparta AM (DEN) 111
3. Sport Lisboa e Benfica (POR) 101
4. Playas de Castellón (ESP) 86
5. Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers (GBR) 82
6. PAC (NED) 69
7. Nike Klaipeda (LTU) 58
8. Fiamme Gialle Simoni (ITA) 57
As with the men, Fenerbahce’s women were near enough to their closest rivals in the 4x400m relay - the last race of the programme - to ensure they would not be overtaken in the chase for the title. They achieved four individual victories en route to their fourth successive title.
What to start, too, because just as she did last year, Deniz Yaylaci brought maximum points in the hammer again. Her triumph came courtesy of an opening throw of 50.56m but it was close, with Castellon’s Aitana Safont almost matching her in the third round with 48.95m for second place.
There was double success on the track as Emine Akbingol won the 3000m in 9:50.71 while in the 3000m steeplechase, the Istanbul-based club secured maximum points again as Derya Kunur triumphed in 10:52.08 from Sparta’s Sophie Soefeldt (10:56.44).
With officials using umbrellas throughout the day, the field events proved good for Fenerbahce. Along with Yaylaci, Munevver Hanci (48.54m) won the javelin but the host nation’s side were keeping the pressure on throughout.
Katerina Vavrova took the win in the 200m in 24.18; Gabriela Gajanova won the 800m in 2:07.58; and in the 400m hurdles, Lucie Kruparova won in 59.28, a victory by over four seconds. Jana Novotna also won the long jump with 5.63m before the finale of the 4x400m relay.
The hosts won in 3:45.59 but Fenerbahce secured the overall trophy for the fourth time in as many years, finishing third in 3:53.95.
Elsewhere, European U20 200m champion Maya Bruney rounded out her junior career by winning in 54.23 while her Blackheath & Bromley clubmate Isabella Hilditch clocked 13.83 to win the 100m hurdles. Competing for Sparta AC, European U18 2000m steeplechase champion Anna Mark Helwigh won a tactical 1500m in 4:44.41.
1. Fenerbahce Sport Club (TUR) 110
2. AK Olymp Brno (CZE) 107
3. Blackheath & Bromley Harriers (GBR) 104
4. Sparta AM (DEN) 92
5. Playas de Castellón (ESP) 85
6. Atletica Vicentina Club (ITA) 69
7. Nike Klaipeda (LTU) 62
8. AD Mass Ljubljana (SLO) 47