Kolak lives up to the billing with javelin gold

Sara Kolak wins in Bydgoszcz
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Croatia's Sara Kolak added the European U23 title to her Olympic gold medal from last summer

It is not often an Olympic champion appears at the European Athletics U23 Championships but Croatia’s Sara Kolak did not disappoint as she followed Rio javelin gold with Bydgoszcz glory.

Kolak, 22, had a superb series, winning with her second throw of 65.12m, in an important competition in a summer where she will be the favourite at next month's IAAF World Championships in London along with world record-holder Barbora Spotakova from the Czech Republic.

Whether or not being in the field with Kolak was an inspiration, the two women alongside her on the podium were there after throwing personal bests: Latvia's Anete Kocina won silver with 64.47m and Poland's Marcelina Witek won bronze with 63.03m. Turkey's Eda Tugsuz, who was seen as Kolak's biggest threat after throwing 67.21m in May, finished fourth with 62.37m.

"I feel great," said Kolak. "It's hard to be a favourite because everyone expects me to win but I am only human. I still cannot believe that I am Olympic champion and now I need to focus on London."

  

Olympic fourth-placer Maria Andrejczyk did not take part due to injury but Poland still won a medal courtesy of Witek, who added nearly two metres to her lifetime best. "The fans were cheering but I actually did not hear them because I was concentrating on my throws. I was thinking about keeping a good technique and I am really happy,” she said.

Kolak opened with 63.12m ahead of her winning effort. She then had a foul before further throws of 61.22m and 61.02m and then a fine 64.69m - and to show the level she was at, Kolak had more throws over 60 metres - five out of six - than she did in Rio - four out of six, winning with 66.18m.

Babayev's triple triumph on amazing day for Lipsanen

Germany's European champion Max Hess had spoken of the threat that Nazim Babayev posed and how right he was as he won gold in a triple jump competition of the highest class.

Babayev, 19, had jumped further than Hess this year outdoors and he showed his ability with the second best leap by a European this year with 17.18m from the second round. He had only one other legal jump, with 16.74m in the third round, but it did not matter because he had done enough for the title.

 

When it came to the final round and the final jump, he seemed to savour all the noise, bowing to the crowd from the sandpit even though it was another foul.

Hess won bronze with 16.68m from the fourth round but what a day it was for Finland's Simo Lipsanen.

He won silver by breaking his country's national record that had, incredibly, stood for 49 years. Lipsanen's fifth round jump saw him land at 17.14m to replace the mark of 17.00m that Pertti Pousi had set in Kuortane, Finland, on June 23 1968.

Sykora continues Czech tradition with decathlon gold

Personal bests were the order of the day as Czech Republic's Jiri Sykora won decathlon gold.

The 2014 World U20 champion took the lead after the opening event of the day - the 110m hurdles - where he ran 14.15, and the discus, where he threw 50.37m, for a score of 5918 from Belarusian Maksim Andraloits (5789) and Sweden's Fredrik Samuelson (5772).

Sykora, 22, stayed in that position as he finished 10th overall in the pole vault with 4.50m as Germany's Torben Blach won the event by going all the way to 5.20m, the only man to pass five metres.

With two disciplines to go, Sykora led with 6678 from Andraloits (6608) and Samuelson (6591) and by the end of the penultimate event, the javelin, Sykora was further in front after blow to the rest. He won it with another lifetime best - this time 63.36m - for 789 points and a total of 7467.

Samuelson was second with 7315 after a javelin of 59.10m and Finland's Elmo Savola was third with 7273 after a javelin of 61.89m.

As France's Edgar Chave won the 1500m in 4:29.62, Sykora was way down, finishing 17th in 4:50.30 but he was the champion with 8084 points from Samuelson with 8010 and Savola in a lifetime best of 7956.

Yuliya Levchenko led a Ukrainian one-two in the women's high jump which she won with 1.96m from Iryna Herashchenko with 1.92m. The European indoor bronze medallist had first time clearances at 1.88m, 1.92m, 1.94m and 1.96m before failing at 1.98m with Italy's Erika Furlani third with 1.86m.

  

In the men's pole vault, Belgium's Ben Broeders claimed the title after a season's best of 5.60m brought him victory on countback from France's Axel Chapelle with Spain's Adrian Valles taking bronze with 5.50m.

Broeders' clean vaulting brought him gold with his only failures coming when the bar was moved to 5.65m.

Polish relay gold as Britain land spoils too

Hosts Poland had so much to celebrate as the women's 4x400m relay team won gold in 3:29.66 from Germany (3:30.18) and Ukraine (3:30.22).

Aleksandra Gaworska picked the baton up from Mariola Karas with the Poles ahead on the final lap and it never changed, as she held her nerve and break away along the home straight to secure a convincing win.

And there was almost a double triumph for Poland but Britain's Cameron Chalmers was too strong for Dariusz Kowaluk in the men's 4x400m.

Britain, who led for more than the last two laps, won in 3:03.65 with the rest of their quartet being Lee Thompson, Ben Snaith and Sam Hazel, from Poland in 3:04.22 and France in 3:05.24.