Castellon, Spain is the setting on Saturday (15) for the men of ENKA and women of Fenerbahce Sport Club to defend Turkey’s Group A titles at the ECCC Track & Field U20.
A year on from the rain of Brno in the Czech Republic, where Fenerbahce represented Turkey in both competitions, Enke have now qualified to take on the task of maintaining their success in the men’s event but chasing them close again will surely be those teams which they narrowly beat in 2017.
In the men’s event, Denmark’s Sparta AM were only four points behind Fenerbahce and in the women’s division, the Czech side AK Olympic Brno missed out on victory by a meagre margin of seven points.
But these teams return to pursue the trophies in Group A which also sees the arrival of 2017 Group B champions ASK Slavia Praha from Czech Republic in the men’s division and Dutch-based club PAC Rotterdam in the women’s.
The rest of the men’s competition is made up of hosts Playas de Castellon (ESP), Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC (GBR), PAC Rotterdam (NED), Sport Lisboa e Benfica (POR) and AD Mass Ljubljana (SLO).
And the women’s division is completed by Sparta AM (DEN), Playas de Castellon (ESP), Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC (GBR), Tampereen Pyrinto (FIN) and ASD Bracco Atletica (ITA).
Kamanga-Dyrbak favoured for sprint success
In the men’s sprints, Sparta’s Tazana Kamanga-Dyrbak will be eyeing up maximum points in both the individual events. He has the fastest time this year among his rivals in the 200m with 20.99, compared to the next best in Enke’s Ahmet Kasap (21.55) and the second fastest in the 100m of 10.65 – a personal best – in which Benfica’s Eberson Silva has run 10.63 this year.
Kamanga-Dyrbak, 16, made a good start to his international career at the European Athletics U18 Championships in Gyor, Hungary. He finished sixth in the 100m and fourth in the 200m before winning the Nordic U20 title in 20.99.
Sparta will also be strong in the 800m as William Devantier’s lifetime best of 1:49.72 is well ahead of the rest and Blackheath’s Ethan Brown - who won silver in the 400m at the European U18 Championships in 46.87, just 0.02 shy of the title - is the standout man in the 400m.
On the in-field Enke could bank the top points in the high jump as Ali Berk Erol leads the field with 2.10m although Blackheath’s Kelechi Aguocha is just behind him on the entry-lists with 2.07m.
With a 15.53m lifetime best, Raul Camacho will be looking to deliver maximum points for Castellon and Benfica will have two excellent chances in the throwing events courtesy of Emanuel Sousa in the discus and Bayley Campbell in the hammer.
A sprint double for Stefanowicz for Castellon?
As in the men’s event, there could be a sprint double success on the women’s side and this one could see delight for the home team as Castellon’s Magdalena Stefanowicz holds all the trump cards in the 100m and 200m.
In the shorter sprint, she has a personal best of 11.47 (and a marginally wind-aided 11.33 to her credit) – with Fenerbahce’s Melike Malkoc the next quickest with 11.93 – and in the 200m, she is the fastest of the eight with 24.10 ahead of Blackheath’s Megan Walsh on 24.84.
Olympic Brno could be celebrating maximum points in the 800m and by some margin, too. World U20 fourth-placer Gabriela Gajanova’s lifetime best of 2:01.90 gives her a healthy advantage on the rest of the line-up.
In field events, Fenerbahce have a brace of excellent chances: Rumeysa Okdem in the high jump (1.84m PB), Mesure Tutku Yilmaz (4.15m PB), Essa Yilmaz in the triple jump (13.43m PB), Aysel Yilmaz in the shot put (15.10m PB) and Munevver Hanci in the javelin (51.85m PB) could all give the reigning champions a collection of top points.
Promotion is the prize in Leiria
The ECCC Track & Field U20 Group B will be taking place in Leiria, Portugal on Saturday.
The men’s division is made up of Jyvaskylaan Kenttäurheilijat (FIN), Pays Colmar Athletisme (FRA), Leevale AC (IRL), Leader Jerusalem (ISR), Atletica Vicentina Club (ITA), Nike Klaipeda (LTU), COA Valais Romand (SUI) and SK SOG Nitra (SVK).
Six teams will be competing in the women’s division: CA Balma (FRA), Nike Klaipeda (LTU), Sporting Clube de Portugal (POR), AD Mass Ljubljana (SLO), BTV Aarau Athletics (SUI) and SK SOG Nitra (SVK).
One of the outstanding athletes competing in Leiria will be world U20 400m hurdles finalist Emma Zapletalova who will be representing SK SOG Nitra in Leiria. Zapletalova also competed in the 400m hurdles at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships and reached the final in the 4x400m relay for Slovakia.
The seventh and eighth-placed teams in Group A will be relegated and the top two teams in Group B will gain promotion.