Two world U20 records for Germany on final day in Grosseto

Niklas Kaul
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Niklas Kaul smashed his world U20 decathlon record on the final day of the European Athletics U20 Championships in Grosseto

Niklas Kaul drew the curtain down on his glittering career in the junior ranks by smashing his world U20 decathlon record on the final day of the European Athletics U20 Championships in Grosseto, Italy.

Kaul won the world U20 title in Bydgoszcz last summer with a score of 8162 points - although the 8397 tally by his compatriot Torsten Voss in 1982 achieved with senior equipment had the status of being considered to be the world best - but the 19-year-old added nearly 300 points to his total and rendered the debate about the record almost moot with a two-day score of 8435 points.

The record score came despite an arduous programme on the second day which saw the decathletes take to the track at 8.30am this morning for the 110m hurdles and finish nearly eleven hours later.

Kaul looked on course to improve his world U20 record in Filderstadt last month until an unusually poor discus - when he only threw 34.53m  - scuppered any record-breaking aspirations but he was back on form in the seventh event in Grosseto with a lifetime best of 48.49m.

He still trailed Estonia’s Johannes Erm in the overall standings after the pole vault but the German is almost as good as anyone in the senior ranks in the last two events. Even though he was nursing an injury, Kaul still launched the javelin out to 68.05m - the best of the day with his only throw - before pushing all the way to the line in the 1500m in 4:15.52.

“I could do a bit more in the javelin throw but I had an injury in the elbow during the competition, so I had to stop throwing. I'm really happy, I was not expecting to go over 8400 points - it's just amazing. This is the best way to end the season,” he said.

The decathlon produced lifetime bests for seven of the top eight finishers and Erm nearly surpassed Kaul’s since-beaten world U20 record with 8141 points while his teammate Karel Tilga won bronze with 8002 points.

The German sprint relay team caused a stir at the start of the programme as a team which included individual silver medallist Keshia Kwadwo and European U20 leader Jennifer Montag blasted to a world U20 record of 43.27 from the outside lane - eclipsing the previous mark held by the United States since 2006 by 0.02.

Barring a dropped baton or injury, it was Germany against the clock in the final and while they were just outside their world record, the quartet still stopped the stopwatch at 43.44 - the second fastest time in championship history behind their 43.42 performance set in 2011 when senior standouts Tatjana Pinto and Alexandra Burghardt were part of the team.

France and Great Britain picked up silver and bronze medals in 44.03 and 44.17 respectively.

Germany made it a double in the sprint relay but the men’s final was a decidedly more competitive affair as Emanuel Stubican held off a charging Filippo Tortu to claim gold in a European U20 leading mark of 39.48 with Italy setting a national U20 record of 39.50 to claim silver.

Sibilio anchors Italy to 4x400m title

The programme climaxed with a thrilling men’s 4x400m final with five teams in contention for the medals with less than 200 metres remaining.

Alessandro Sibilio occupied fifth-place for Italy at this point but after leaving himself with too much to do in the 400m hurdles final, the 18-year-old timed his run to perfection on the flat, passing three teams off the bend before overhauling Wilfried Happio, the winner of the 400m hurdles title, with 40 metres remaining.

Sibilio's anchor leg was timed at 46.66 but the fastest runner on the track was individual silver medallist Tymoteusz Zimny, who took Poland from sixth to third - and momentarily into second place - with a sparkling 45.74 clocking.

 

In the women’s 4x400m, Anastasiya Bryzhina claimed her second gold medal of the championships as she anchored Ukraine to victory in 3:32.82 ahead of Germany (3:33.08) and Great Britain (3:33.68).

Individual 200m winner Maya Bruney clocked a 51.7 second leg which was the fastest of the day and she was the only athlete of the championships to win three medals having also picked up a medal for Great Britain in the 4x100m.