The heptathlon was regarded as one of the must-watch events of the programme and so it proved with the gold and silver medallists smashing the world youth best of 6079 points on the second day of the European Athletics Youth Championships in Tbilisi.
Austria’s Sarah Lagger held the lead overnight but even though she was some way adrift of her best mark in the javelin, Ukraine’s Alina Shukh moved back into the lead by thirty points with 50.04m in the penultimate event.
Not only did the 800m decide who would claim the title, it was also a race to decide who would come away with the record which stood to the Ukrainian at 6079. Lagger put in a gutsy effort to break her 800m PB by two seconds with 2:13.56 but Shukh - whose legs collapsed on her as she crossed the finish-line - did just enough to hold on to the overall lead in 2:14.89.
Shukh, 16, added more than 100 points to her world youth best with 6186 while Lagger also surpassed the previous mark by a substantial margin with 6175. Great Britain’s Niamh Emerson claimed bronze with another British youth record of 5919.
On the track, Keshia Kwadwo fulfilled the promise she showed earlier this year when she ran a lifetime best of 11.48 with victory in the girls’ 100m final.
Kwadwo, the younger sister of top German sprinter Yasmin, recovered from a poor start in the semi-final to qualify as the second fastest for the final. She didn’t get out of the blocks particularly well in the final again but came through late to claim the title in 11.76.
Ireland’s Gina Akpe-Moses qualified as the fastest for the final and came away with the silver medal in 11.80. It was the first time Ireland has ever won a medal in the 100m at the European Championships at any level.
Germany also claimed the boys’ 100m title although it unexpectedly went to Marvin Schulte in 10.56 by just 0.01 ahead of Sweden’s Henrik Larsson.
Pre-race favourite Milo Skupin-Alfa ran 10.43 in the semi-finals to approach the national youth record but the world youth finalist pulled up with a hamstring injury and broke down after crossing the finish line.
Two of the stars from last year’s World Youth Championships in Cali excelled on the second day of competition in Tbilisi.
In the discus, Moldova’s Alexandra Emilianov went out to a substantial lifetime best of 58.09m in the fourth round to claim the title. The 16-year-old’s winning mark was the best throw by a European youth since 1987.
Georgiana Iuliana Anitei produced her best mark with her last jump in Cali last summer and the Romanian did the same to claim the title in Tbilisi.
But while Anitei had already sealed the competition in Cali before the sixth jump, the Romanian was briefly out of the medals before she produced a clutch 13.19m effort with her sixth round to claim the triple jump title.
Myhaylo Havrylyuk had to settle for silver in Cali last summer but the Ukrainian went one better in Tbilisi, winning the hammer with a lifetime best and world youth leading mark of 82.26m ahead of Britain’s Jake Norris (79.20m) and Sweden’s Ragnar Carlsson (75.71m).
Greece had a memorable day with two gold medals. Panayiotis Mantzouroyiannis went out to 7.60m with his last jump of the final to claim the long jump title while Odissefs Mouzenidis improved his European leading mark to 21.51m to win the shot put. World youth record-holder Emmanouil Karalis looks destined to follow suit after only taking one jump to qualify for the pole vault final.
In the girls’ 3000m, Switzerland claimed their first gold medal of the championships courtesy of Delia Sclabas who produced a seven second PB of 9:23.44 to outsprint Norway’s Stine Wangberg (9:26.55).
Marisa Carvalho could have challenged for a medal in the heptathlon but the Portuguese opted to contest the 100m hurdles which has turned out to be an inspired decision.
After improving her PB to 13.34 in the heats, Carvalho took a huge chunk off her lifetime best in the semi-finals with 13.07 to break the European youth best and move to fifth on the world all-time rankings. She qualified as the fastest for the final by 0.25.