Johnson-Thompson keeps the pressure on Thiam with 6.68m long jump

Katarina Johnson-Thompson
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Overnight leader Katarina Johnson-Thompson led the heptathlon long jump with 6.68m

The rain might have passed from the night before but a thunderous long jump in the women's heptathlon had the Olympic Stadium gripped this morning at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson had led overnight with 4017 points from Belgium's Olympic and world champion Nafissatou Thiam with 3930 and Germany's Carolin Schafer with 3848.

But the British multi-eventer, who has already won the world indoor pentathlon title and Commonwealth heptathlon gold this year, knew she had to nail a good jump because the next discipline, the javelin, is one of her weakest.

This was the time when the pressure was at its greatest for Johnson-Thompson and after she had started with 6.44m, Thiam followed her by going a centimetre further. On the scoring charts, it was worth three more for the Belgian as she looked to narrow the 87 point gap.

Round two saw them both foul, but Johnson-Thompson, who has a personal best of 6.92m, was not far away from that even though her foot had gone some way across the take-off line.

Had it been a legal effort, the task facing Thiam but have been almost insuperable but it became tougher for the Belgian in round three as Johnson-Thompson reached 6.68m for 1066 points with a really superb leap.

Her delight when she left the sandpit was evident enough as she was only two centimetres shy of her season's best.

Thiam responded in kind, with a jump of 6.60m, also just two centimetres off her season’s best , giving her 1040 points. Johnson-Thompson leads with 5083 from Thiam with 4970 points. Austria's Ivona Dadic moved into third with 6.35m as Schafer dropped down to fourth after a 6.24m.

But Thiam now knows she must take advantage of her javelin ability – she has a PB of 59.32m compared to Johnson-Thompson's 42.01m – if she is going to overtake her British rival with only that event and the 800m to go.

Wlodarczyk leads hammer qualifying; Lavillenie eases through; Holzdeppe and Hess out

Defending champion Anita Wlodarczyk opened with 69.81m but she made no mistake with her second throw of 75.10m as she reached the hammer final in her pursuit of her fourth successive European gold medal.

With 70.00m being the standard needed, the Polish star was top of Group B followed by Azerbaijan's Hanna Skydan with 74.02m, a season's best, and France's Alexandra Tavernier with 72.88m.

Belarusian Hanna Malyshik was the best in Group A with 72.39m followed by Wlodarcyzk's teammate Joanna Fiodorow with 71.46m. Although she did not pass the automatic qualifying standard, Great Britain's Olympic bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon was the 11th best of the 12 qualifiers after throwing 68.69m in Group B, either side of two fouls.

Hitchon's teammate Laura Muir knows what it is like to stand at the top of the podium at a European Championships after her double gold at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade last year and now she wants a repeat of those moments in Berlin.

So far so good for Muir, who had no trouble making it into 1500m final after dominating the last 200 metres to win her heat in 4:09.12. The first four all progressed, with Angelika Cichocka, Poland's defending champion, in fourth in a season’s best of 4:10.04.

She will be joined in the final by fellow Brit Laura Weightman, who was second in the next semifinal in 4:08.74 as Poland's Sofia Ennaoui came from the back to win in 4:08.60 in a heat where Sweden's Hanna Hermansson's ran a PB of 4:08.98 to see her through in fourth.

France's Renaud Lavillenie is another athlete going for a fourth European outdoor crown and he was not troubled in pole vault qualifying. He did not enter until the bar has reached 5.51m, clearing that height of 5.51m and then 5.61m without trouble to progress along with most of the main challengers including Poles Piotr Lisek and Pawel Wojciechowski and Sweden's Armand Duplantis.

There was disappointment for the home nation as Raphael Holzdeppe, the 2013 world champion, crashed out after three failures at 5.51m. Reigning champion Robert Sobera from Poland also failed to qualify.

Reigning European triple jump champion Max Hess also didn’t make it through to the final with a best of 16.32m. The two pools were led by Azerbaijan’s Alexis Copello (16.82m) and Spain’s Pablo Torrijos (16.79m).

But the crowd did have enough to cheer as Germany's defending champion Gesa-Felicitas Krause easily reached the final of the 3000m steeplechase, finishing third in 9:33.51 behind Switzerland's Fabienne Schlumpf in 9:32.32 and Albania's Luiza Gega in 9:33.11.

And this second heat saw national records for Slovenia's Marusa Mismas in 9:34.28 and Israel's Adva Cohen in 9:36.13, times which saw them both go through.