Stefanidi retains pole vault title with championship record of 4.85m

Ekaterini Stefanidi
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Ekaterini Stefanidi improved her championship record to 4.85m to defend her European pole vault title in Berlin

It was fast becoming an historic evening as Greece's Ekaterini Stefanidi once more demonstrated her awesome ability by breaking her own championship record as she won a superb pole vault competition at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships.

The defending champion does not know how to lose at the major events. She is already the reigning Olympic and world champion and she would not give in here despite facing a classy field.

“I came here with a completely different mentality, as I had never to defend a title before, so it was very stressful. Especially, when there are so many girls in good shape,” she said candidly.

Stefanidi had already sealed the title on countback at 4.80m but there was still more to come from the Greek superstar. She he had fouled on her first two attempts at 4.85m but then twisted and turned with one final decisive push to break the championship mark of 4.81m she had set in Amsterdam 2016.

It was a great night for Greece as they celebrated a one-two with Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou, who is on the return from maternity leave, taking second with a season’s best of 4.80m and Britain's Holly Bradshaw winning bronze with 4.75m.

France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad was as clear a favourite as there is in Berlin and he made no mistake in the 3000m steeplechase final to maintain his amazing record at the European Championships.

He has now won a gold medal at the last five championships, with four titles over the barriers and the other in the 1500m in Zurich 2014 where he was first in the steeplechase but was disqualified for taking his shirt off in the home straight in celebration.

He was not troubled in securing gold again in 8:31.66 from Spain's Fernando Carro in 8:34.16 and Italy's Yohanes Chiappinelli in 8:35.81. Mekhissi will return to the track later this week for the 5000m final.

Herman beats the Germans for the 100m hurdles title

Germany had big hopes in the 100m hurdles but Belarusian Elvira Herman had other ideas as she took the next step in her career in style.

The European U20 champion in 2015 and world U20 champion in 2016, she now has her first senior title after a blistering performance saw her charge through from lane three to win in 12.67 ahead of German duo Pamela Dutkiewicz in 12.72 and Cindy Roleder in 12.77.

“I wanted this gold so much. When I was in the blocks, I do not know why, but I was only thinking about the gold. No silver, no bronze, just gold,” she said.

Herman’s experienced compatriot Alina Talay led the European lists with 12.41 but the former European indoor and outdoor champion ended up getting in a tangle with one of the hurdles and did not finish.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson put the gloss to a superb first day by running a heptathlon championship best for the 200m to lead overnight with 4017 points from Belgium's Olympic and world champion Nafissatou Thiam with Germany's perennial medallist Carolin Schafer in third with 3848.

The British star was in charge going into the evening session with 2193 points from Nafissatou Thiam on 2142 points and Katerina Cachova from the Czech Republic, on 2122 points.

But that changed after the shot put as Thiam achieved an outdoor personal best of 15.35m to move into the lead with 3026 from Johnson-Thompson, who had a season's best of 13.09m which brought her real delight by the way she jumped about as the implement landed.

She was now second with 2926 points from Germany's Carolin Schafer, third with 2843 after a shot put of 14.12m.

Thiam ran 24.81 in the third heat of the 200m but then the stage was left to Johnson-Thompson. She has the edge going into the second day, stormed away from lane with a brilliant run of 22.88 to improve Jessica Ennis-Hill’s eight-year-old championship record of 23.21.