Dramatic victories for Gudzius and Guba in the throws

Andrius Gudzius
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Lithuania's Andrius Gudzius added the European discus title to his world title at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships

Final round flourishes from Lithuania’s world discus champion Andrius Gudzius and Polish shot putter Paulina Guba turned silver to gold tonight in an evening session of fluctuating drama at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships.

A large majority of the spectators were doubtless hoping fervently for a winning final flourish by their own hero Robert Harting, the 33-year-old making his final appearance for Germany who won the world title in this stadium nine years ago and added Olympic gold at London 2012.

When Harting produced a fourth round effort of 64.33m – and a deep bellow of achievement from the surrounding fans – it lifted him into silver medal position. But such was the volatility of this event that he ended in sixth place.

Gudzius himself produced a significant fourth round throw of 67.66m that consolidated his lead, but was swiftly usurped by an effort of 68.23m by Sweden’s Daniel Stahl. Another fourth round throw of 65.14 by Austria’s Lukas Weisshaidinger also proved significant as it pushed Harting off the last international podium he would ever have a chance of inhabiting.

There was a final twist to come, as Gudzius reclaimed his lead with 68.46m, with Stahl throwing big on his final response, but fouling in the process.

“To be honest, I really expected to do this in these championships but it was hard,” said Gudzius. “I must say I'm really impressed with the German fans. It is evident they really value athletics, and - in particular - the German athletes. I'm always excited to come back here to Berlin to compete.”

Stahl commented: “It was a beautiful competition and I got silver so I am proud of myself.”

As this humdinger of a contest played out, another seemingly simpler one was taking place just across the in-field as Germany’s 2015 world shot put champion Christina Schwanitz took a big lead with her first throw of 19.19m and advanced stolidly towards what would have been a fourth consecutive European title with follow-ups of 19.08m and 18.86m.

Guba hadn’t managed anything better than 19.02m after five rounds, but she threw out to 19.33m on her last go. Bronze went to Aliona Dubitskaya of Belarus with 18.81m.

“I am shocked,” said Guba. “I am sorry if I made the local fans upset but I surprised even myself. I just wanted to win and it is my first medal from a big competition. I am the European champion - I cannot believe it.”

Another field event briefly promised gold for the hosts as Fabian Heinle took a second round lead with 8.13m. A round later he was back in second place by merit of having a lesser second effort than Ukraine’s Serhii Nykyforov, who matched his leading effort.

Greece’s European U20 champion Miltiadis Tentoglou, 20, then rose above this close contest with what proved to be a winning fifth round effort of 8.25m. But Heinle turned bronze back into silver with a final effort that matched his second round exactly, giving him two stronger efforts than those of his Ukrainian opponent.

The women’s 10,000m title went to the 29-year-old Israeli athlete who leads this year’s European lists - Lonah Chemtai Salpeter - who finished almost 50 metres clear of the dogged challenge of Susan Krumins from the Netherlands, clocking 31:43.29.

Krumins, who tracked Chemtai doggedly after they had broken clear over the final seven laps, staggered home almost bent double with effort, to take silver in 31:52.55, with bronze going to Sweden’s Meraf Bahta in 32:19.34.

Turkey’s defending champion Yasemin Can led for much of the race but fell away drastically in the closing laps to fifth in 32:34.34. Early leader Ancuta Bobocel from Romania was a non-finisher.

Salpeter’s tale of a transfer of allegiance is atypical. Born in Kenya, she moved to Israel in 2008 as a nanny for the children of Kenya’s Ambassador to Israel. There she met running coach and national steeplechaser Dan Salpeter, whom she married in 2014 and with whom she has a son, Roy.

She was granted Israeli citizenship in March 2016, eight years after she had begun living in her new country, and a few days before the cut-off for Rio 2016 qualification.