Storl stays strong to land first indoors

Storl stays strong to land first indoors
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Germany's David Storl won his first major indoor title with a terrific final round throw of 21.23m.

Two Worlds, two Europeans, World Youth, World Junior, European junior, European under-23 – the list of David Storl’s shot put titles reads like run-down of major athletics championships.

Yet until today, there’s been a rather glaring gap in the 24-year-old’s German’s gold-medal cabinet, for that glittering array of honours included none at all from indoor contests.

The man from Chemnitz put that right in the 02 Arena this evening when he clinched gold at the 33rd European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague with a final round throw of 21.23m, hitting exactly the distance he achieved in yesterday’s qualification round.

“It’s such an important title for me,” he said after celebrating his victory with both arms aloft. “It’s my first indoor title and that’s what really mattered today.

“This is my first European indoor title and it was lacking in my collection. I am proud that I made it.”

Not that he hasn’t tried in the past, for Storl was a silver medallist at the European indoors in Paris four years ago, aged just 20, and has twice been pipped for gold at the world indoors since then, losing to Ryan Whiting in Istanbul four years ago and Sopot last March, after topping the qualification round on each occasion.

He came to Prague after a great outdoor season in 2014 when he led Germany to victory at the European Athletics Team Championships in Braunschweig last June and, two months later, retained his title at the European Championships in Zurich.

Spain's Borjas Vivas was predicted to be Storl’s biggest threat, but that didn’t account for an inspired Serb, Asmir Kolasinac, who snatched silver in the final round with 20.90m, nor the power of home crowd support, which lifted Czech thrower Ladislav Prasil to bronze, much to the delight of the 02 crowd.

In fact, Prasil led the early stages with 20.66m from the opening round, before Storl took over in round three, launching one out beyond 21 metres, and beyond the reach of any of his opponents.

“In the first and second attempt there was not enough hip, I forget to use my legs,” he said. “I was in a good shape and had high expectations, my goal was to make a strong first attempt, which did not work.

“Even with 21.12m in my third round I still could not be sure I’d win the gold medal because Prasil had the advantage of his home crowd.

“My knee hurt a little bit, especially after the third attempt and I would have liked to throw further. But I did not get into the competition very well. My aim was to win the title, but it was difficult for me. I was angry when my knee started to hurt a little bit.

“But I will party tonight and celebrate. I hear they have good beer here in Prague. And then I will go home.”

One of the very few athletes in any discipline to win all available outdoor titles at youth, junior and senior level, Storl is now finally off the mark as an indoor champion.

Talking of getting off your marks, the three musketeers of French sprint hurdling did that in style in the last final of the evening, putting on a swashbuckling display of barrier-running to take all three medals in the men’s 60m hurdles, the first ever podium sweep in this event.

It was a French 1-2-3 in the 60m hurdles in Prague on Friday evening.
It was a French 1-2-3 in the 60m hurdles in Prague on Friday evening.

Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, Dimitri Bascou and Wilhem Belocian dominated the contest from the first round this morning and were separated by just three hundredths of a second in the final where the low-dipping Martinot-Lagarde snatched gold in 7.49, 0.01 ahead of Bascou with Belocian running a lifetime best of 7.52 for third.

There was more great hurdling in the women’s final where Alina Talay clocked 7.85 to break the 25-year-old Belarus record and take gold ahead of the British pair, Lucy Hatton and Serita Solomon, who both ran personal bests.

And it took a national record to win the men’s long jump too, as Michel Tonréus leapt a world leading 8.30m to beat the Czech Republic’s Radek Juska, with Tornéus’s teammate Andreas Otterling bagging bronze for Sweden.