Swoboda soars into European history

Swoboda sprints into European history
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Still only 17, Poland's Ewa Swoboda produced a new 60m European indoor junior record with a time of 7.21 at the national championships in Torun on Saturday.

The European Athletics record books were rewritten at the weekend in the shape of Polish sprinter Ewa Swoboda.

In a time of 7.21, Swoboda, 17, broke the European Athletics Junior 60m mark with a superb run in the heats at the Polish Championships.

Swoboda, who was fifth in the 100m at last summer’s IAAF World Junior Championships, broke the old mark by 0.01, a time jointly-held by Britons Dina Asher-Smith and Desiree Henry.

It was a run that puts Swoboda equal seventh overall in the European Athletics rankings this winter and is another big step in her development.

While she will be one of the favourites for the European Athletics Junior Championships in Eskilstuna in July, she will now be one to watch at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague in less than two weeks.

Just for good measure Swoboda then won the final in Torun in 7.22 at an event where her fellow Pole Kamila Licwinko took her superb winter up another notch as she extended her world-leading mark by one centimetre to 2.02m.

Watch her winning jump:

Dafne Schippers, the double European champion from Zurich, will still be the sprinter to beat in Prague.

She leads the European Athletics rankings with 7.09 and in Apeldoorn she became Dutch champion with victory in 7.18. Schippers also won the long jump with an indoor best of 6.48m.

The gradual rise in standards as the European Athletics Indoor Championships edge closer came to the fore at the weekend - and how fitting that some of the best performances were in Prague.

As the Czech Republic prepares to host this winter’s showpiece indoor event, from 6-8 March, one of their great young stars, Pavel Maslak, is on course for more success.

Maslak, the defending 400m champion, produced the fastest time in the world this year, and his second quickest ever, as he won the event at the national championships in 45.27.

He was just 0.03 outside of his national record and his opening half of the race was his fastest indoors in a time of 21.12.

But what was equally encouraging for the Czech athletics officials were the three runners behind.

By all breaking 47 seconds - Jan Tesar was next in 46.21, Patrik Sorm was third in 46.69 and with Daniel Nemecek fourth in 46.74 - the Czech Republic will have one of the leading squads in the 4x400m relay.

Like Maslak, teammate Zuzana Hejnova, the world 400m hurdles champion, returned this winter after injury and looked good as she won the 400m in 52.76 while Jan Marcell produced a personal best of 20.71m to win the shot put. 

If he is to lift gold in Prague, he will probably have to beat David Storl, the German double world and European champion who returned to action in impressive fashion.

Storl, who had knee surgery in the winter, landed a European lead of 21.26m for victory at the German Championships in Karlsruhe.

The men’s triple jump is really hotting up - with the European lead achieved twice in 24 hours in two countries.

Firstly, in Antequera, Spain’s Pablo Torrijos beat the national record by 16 centimetres with 17.03m before 2008 Olympic champion Nelson Evora then leaped to 17.19m in Pombal on the second day of Portugal’s Club Indoor Championships with his furthest effort for four years.

A weekend would not be a weekend without Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie impressing, and in Aubiere, he won the pole vault with 6.01m - the fourth time this winter he has broken six metres - while teammate Kafetien Gomis produced a world-leading long jump of 8.18m and Dimitri Bascou took his European lead to 7.48 in the 60m hurdles.

There are 61 meetings across Europe this week, with full details at www.european-athletics.org/calendar