The people of Belgrade were handed a preview of what is to come during the European Athletics Indoor Championships in March as the country’s sporting heroine Ivana Spanovic broke the national long jump record in the city on Sunday.
Fans packed to watch the special street event in the Serbian capital and Spanovic gave them a performance to remember as she soared to a sensational 7.10m.
The jump, her first of the competition, broke her 7.08m mark which brought Olympic bronze in Rio last month and she is set to become the superstar of the Belgrade 2017 Euro Indoors - which is now only 172 days away.
— Telegraf Sport (@TelegrafSport) September 11, 2016
The Serbian capital is hosting the event in this guise for the first time between 3-5 March and the long jump will be the biggest occasion of the three days for the home crowd because of Spanovic.
She is the defending champion after her victory in Prague 2015 and in July she made it a European golden double in Amsterdam.
Spanovic, who also won the Diamond Race this year, maintained her brilliant form on Sunday with her series of jumps being the record-breaking 7.10m, 6.74m, 6.97m, 7.03m, 6.80m and 6.83m as she beat Great Britain’s Jazmin Sawyers (6.56m) and Sweden´s Erica Jarder (6.21m).
Fans packed the stands by the side of the long jump pit and down the runway as Spanovic treated them to a glorious piece of Serbian athletics history.
In Sapareva Banya on Sunday, there was glory again for Austria’s Andrea Mayr who was crowned Mountain Running world champion for the sixth time.
Mayr, 36, triumphed over the 7.3km course in Bulgaria in 39.04 on a great day for European athletes with Italy’s Valentina Belotti in second (40:47) and France’s Christel Dewalle (41:05) in third.
— Corsa in montagna (@corsainmontagna) September 11, 2016
A brilliant road runner, Mayr is also the national record holder at both the half-marathon and marathon distances and her victory completed an amazing record at this event because since she first won the title in Bursa in 2006, she has taken gold every other year.
Belotti’s performance helped lead Italy’s women to team gold while Turkey’s Ahmet Arslan (1:04:48) landed bronze in the men’s race won by American Joseph Gray (1:02:13).
Germany’s Sarah Kistner (22:47) took the junior girls title from the Czech Republic’s Michaela Stranska (23:51) and Britain’s Bronwen Jenkinson (23:56) with the Czechs lifting the junior team gold.
After retaining the Olympic 10,000m and 5000m titles in Rio, Mo Farah brought his season to close by becoming the first man to the win the Great North Run three years in a row.
His victory, in the half marathon from Newcastle to South Shields, was never in doubt and when he took the lead with just over a mile to go, he found himself in a rare position.
For once, unlike his track glories where he has needed to use his prolific sprinting ability to fend off the challengers, Farah headed to the line looking totally relaxed.
He had broken away from his only rival left, American Dathan Ritzenhein, showing brilliant balance on the downhill stretch to the coastal road in South Shields, and never lost this smooth stride as he won in 60:04.
Ritzenhein was second (60:12) with Kenya's Emmanuel Bett in third (61.22) and Farah said: "It's good to finish the year on a high, what a year I have had. I just want to go home now, chill out, see the kids and get up to no good."
Twenty-four hours earlier in Newcastle, David Rudisha closed his season with victory at the Great North City Games over 500m on the Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside in a fast 57.69 ahead of last year’s winner Mark English (57.91) and Martyn Rooney (59.02), while Lysney Sharp won the women’s 500m in 66.62 ahead of Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (66.89).
Britain’s top middle-distance runner Laura Muir closed her amazing season by winning the road mile at the Great North City Games in 4:33.99 from teammate Alison Leonard (4:34.42).
In Hamburg, Florian Orth (28:58) won the 10km German road title, in Foligno, there was Italian success in their same event for Marouan Razine (29:10) and Fatna Maraoui (33:49) and in Interlaken Switzerland’s Martina Strahl, twice the European Mountain Running champion, ran a course record of 3:19:15 to win the 24th Jungfrau Marathon.
And there was a victorious finale for Germany’s former hammer world record-holder Betty Heidler who brought her career to an end by throwing 74.00m at the Borkum beach event.
There are 44 meetings across European this week, with the European Champion Clubs Cup Track & Field Juniors on Saturday. For more information go to www.european-athletics.org/calendar