Thiam completes the set of major heptathlon titles in Berlin

Nafissatou Thiam
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Nafissatou Thiam set a world-leading mark of 6816 points to win the heptathlon title at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships

A truly great contest in the heptathlon at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships ended with Olympic and world champion Nafissatou Thiam taking her first European title despite a huge and sustained effort from world indoor and Commonwealth champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson to deny her.

The 23-year-old Belgian had arrived at the seventh and final discipline having taken over in the gold medal position from the Brit thanks to a championship best javelin throw of 57.91m with her third and final effort, claiming 1014 points to total 5984.

Johnson-Thompson, whose long jump of 6.68m earlier in the day had extended her lead to 113 points, had produced a personal best of 42.16m to earn 709 points, but it was the Belgian who led, by 192 points going into the 800 metres.

The personal best stats offered the Brit a very small glimmer of hope – her best of 2:07.64 was almost ten seconds faster than Thiam. But how would it play out?

Johnson-Thompson, whose hopes of glory at last year’s home World Championships in London had ended with a poor high jump – an event in which she is British record holder with 1.98m – was a different athlete in Berlin. There were no falterings or failures, and she pushed resolutely from gun-to-tape in a last effort to turn silver back into gold.

Despite winning in 2:09.84, almost 10 seconds clear of the second-last placed Thiam, it was not quite enough to claw back the near insuperable 14 second buffer which the Belgian had accrued after the javelin. The margin was reduced from 192 to 57 points but Thiam won in a world leading 6816 points to complete the set of major outdoor titles with Johnson-Thompson taking silver in a personal best total of 6759.

Bronze went to home athlete and world bronze medallist Carolin Schafer, who totalled 6602 points.

“Everything was in the head in this competition,” said Thiam. “It was fight until the end of the competition and I had to fight with myself too.”

Hussong smashes championship record to complete German javelin double

Germany expected one javelin gold in this stadium – but the hosts will end the Championships with two courtesy of to a championship record effort of 67.90m which secured the title for home thrower Christin Hussong.

That first round effort effectively decided a contest in which silver went to the Czech Republic’s Nikola Ogrodnikova, who threw 61.85m, and Liveta Jasiunaite of Lithuania took bronze with 61.59m. After her final throw she sank to her knees, hands over her face, before rising for a hug from – you know who.

“Seeing the German javelin throwers excel yesterday evening really inspired and motivated me. Suddenly, you also want to have a celebration and an experience like them.

“A lot of people said that I was not able to throw far at a major adult competition and in a big stadium but I proved the contrary tonight. This is my first major international title and I won it in my home stadium,” she said.

Two-time world high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene added European gold to the silver she won four years ago – and she couldn’t have looked less happy about it.

The Authorised Neutral Athlete won on countback from Bulgaria’s Mirela Demireva, who had gambled on passing at 1.96m and then 1.98m, during which heights all other opposition disappeared, and returned to match Lasitskene’s clearance of 2.00m, equalling her personal best, at her third attempt.

At that point Lithuania’s European indoor champion Airine Palsyte, looking on, dropped from third to fourth as home jumper Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch settled for bronze on countback from Palsyte at 1.96m.

Lasitskene then passed at 2.02, meaning both had unsuccessful attempts at 2.04m, with the Bulgarian having to clear to keep faint golden hopes going. But there were no celebrations for the champion, whose face was dark as she resumed her seat, punching the canopy alongside it before flinging down her back and slumping in her seat with head in hands.

“I won but I am upset,” she said. “We expected much better jumps and much higher result. If you want to congratulate me, it is OK, but I cannot celebrate after this event. I do not know why it went like this. I have to talk to my coach and we have to watch the videos. I will continue with the next competitions and the Diamond League but I hope I will feel much better.”

Pryshchepa retains her 800m title; Sprunger improves on 400m hurdles bronze

The women’s 800m field arrived into the finishing straight en masse as the race proper started 100 metres from home. First to cross at the other end turned out to be Ukraine’s Nataliya Pryshchepa, who clocked 2:00.38 to win gold ahead of the France’s Renelle Lamote - also the silver medallist behind Pryshchepa in 2016 -  in 2:00.62.

Pryshchepa’s compatriot Olha Lyakhova took bronze in 2:00.79 with Britain’s Adelle Tracey narrowly missing out in fourth in 2:00.86.    

Lea Sprunger of Switzerland was an exuberant winner of the women’s 400m hurdles in 54.33, the fastest time run in Europe this year. Silver went to Ukraine’s Anna Ryzhykova in 54.51 and Britain’s Meghan Beesley took bronze in 55.31.

A first round personal best of 14.45m in the women’s triple jump sent Germany’s Kristin Gierisch romping out of the pit and into the lead. But Greece’s Paraskevi Papahristou pushed her down to silver in the next round as she produced an effort of 14.60m to match her season’s best.

That was how it finished, with Ana Peleteiro of Spain taking bronze with 14.44m.