Can goes for another double as Bydgoszcz prepares for a special week

Can could have twice the reason to celebrate in Chia
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Yasemin Can will be chasing a 5000/10,000m double at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Bydgoszcz

It is quite an achievement, whatever the age, for a team to celebrate one of their athletes winning the 5000m and 10,000m double at a major event. For Turkey, it is becoming the norm. 

As the excitement builds in Bydgoszcz for the start of the European Athletics U23 Championships on Thursday, Yasemin Can is more once set to be a headline act.

Twelve months ago, Can was a star in Amsterdam when she won the long distance double at the European Athletics Championships, while at the last European U23 Championships in Tallinn in 2015, the Turkish national anthem played out after both men's finals. 

On that occasion, Ali Kaya was in a class of his own as he won both events and Can has the chance to emulate him in the women's competition, with these two races among the most anticipated of the championships. 

Still only 20, Can established herself as an athlete of immense ability with her European senior glory and she will be looking to have a big say at the IAAF World Championships in London next month as well. 

In the 10,000m, Can has a personal best of 30:26.41 - and a season's best of 31:18.20 - and her biggest rival is likely to be Sweden's Sarah Lahti. She has a lifetime best of 31:28.43 ahead of what will be her first 10,000m of the summer. 

And in the 5000m, with Lahti posing a challenge again, Can is the only runner to have broken the 15-minute barrier, with her personal best coming only last month with her 14:36.82 at the Diamond League in Rome.

Swoboda, Bukowiecki on course for home glory

Poland will be looking for big things from their team and Ewa Swoboda returns to the stadium where she broke the national U20 100m record last year when she was second in 11.12 at the World U20 Championships.

In 2015, Swoboda won 100m gold at the European Athletics U20 Championships in Eskilstuna, Sweden and after last summer, her progress was rubber stamped in Belgrade in March when she won 60m bronze at the European Athletics Indoor Championships. 

No woman in the 100m has a better lifetime best than Swoboda, although the Polish sprinter is not the fastest on season's best times. She has a quickest of 11.39 but Germany's Sina Mayer has run a PB of 11.25 and Belarusian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has a PB of 11.28 - the same mark achieved by France's Floriane Gnafoua.

However, Swoboda often saves her best for the big occasion as she demonstrated in Bydgoszcz last summer and in Belgrade this March where she pulled out a season’s best of 7.10 in the final. 

Swoboda's teammate Konrad Bukowiecki is top of the European U23 rankings and third on the overall lists with his 21.51m from last month. However, his outright lifetime best stands at 21.97m from the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Belgrade this March when he produced a European indoor U20 record to defeat a field including reigning champion David Storl from Germany. 

Bukowiecki will be looking for his second European title of the season and his third of the season. He also won the European U20 title in Eskilstuna two years ago.

 

Kolak vs. Tugsuz for javelin gold

The women's javelin will be graced by the Olympic champion Sara Kolak from Croatia, who turned 22 last month and stunned the field last summer with her brilliant victory. 

Kolak is in sensational form, though only last week did she replace Turkey's Eda Tugsuz as world-leader, and this event could develop into a cracking duel between them. 

Tugsuz was leading the way with an early summer throw of 67.21m but then Kolak threw 68.43m in Lausanne on Thursday to replace Tugsuz at the top of the world lists and to claim the European U23 record.

On Sunday, Kolak reached out to 67.83m - the second longest throw of her career - but she was denied victory in the London Diamond League by Barbora Spotakova, who went out to 68.26m in the final round.

One woman who knows all about winning javelin gold at this Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak Stadium is Poland's Klaudia Maruszewska, the world U20 champion, who will be eyeing a podium place again. 

Another duel could develop in the men's long jump, where Germany's Max Hess will be looking to repeat his Amsterdam glory of twelve months ago. He stretched his season's best to 17.13m at his national championships in Erfurt on Sunday to close in on Azerbaijan's Nazim Babayev who has cleared 17.15m this year - although Hess did jump 17.52m indoors.

It was at those German Championships where Konstanze Klosterhalfen ran away with victory in the 1500m, a distance she will start as clear favourite for here with a lifetime best of 3:59.30, while Norway's Karsten Warholm is having another summer to remember. 

Warholm was quite the star at the 2015 European U20 Championships, swapping between the decathlon and 400m and impressively winning silver in both. This year he has smashed the Norwegian 400m (44.87) and 400m hurdles (48.25) records and has entered both events in Bydgoszcz. 

Hungary’s Bence Halasz (hammer), Belarus’ Elvira Herman (100m hurdles), Switzerland’s Angelica Moser (pole vault) and Germany’s Alina Kenzel (shot put) will all return to Bydgoszcz twelve months after claiming gold medals at the World U20 Championships.