Vicente excels on the first day of the heptathlon in Gyor

Maria Vicente
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Spain's Maria Vicente looks poised to add the European U18 heptathlon title to her world U18 title after an excellent first day at the European Athletics U18 Championships in Gyor

Spain's multi-talented Maria Vicente has built up a seemingly unassailable lead of 238 points after the first day of the heptathlon at the European Athletics U18 Championships in Gyor, Hungary.

Vicente started her day with a European U18 lead and Spanish U18 record of 13.25 in the 100m hurdles and the reigning world U18 champion closed proceedings with her second personal best on the track: 23.78 in the 200m to move to sixth on the 2018 European 200m lists.

In between her two fantastic showings on the track, Vicente performed up to standard in the high jump with a 1.72m clearance before going out to a lifetime best of 13.77m in the shot put.

Neutral athlete Vilena Komarova was the star of the high jump, an event in which she cleared 1.84m. She is safe in the silver medal position after four events on 3509 points with Austria's Chiara-Belinda Schuler holding third overnight with 3346 points.  

Keen opens British medal account with 3000m gold

Thomas Keen produced a 59.66 last lap to win the 3000m title on a humid evening in Gyor to open the British medal tally but despite his unmatched turn of pace in the last 400 metres, the Brit admitted the finish line couldn't come soon enough.

"I was starting to swim down the home straight," said Keen, who leads the European U18 lists ahead of the championships. "I mean, I had nothing left. I kept looking behind me, something my coach always tells me not to do. But I couldn’t resist, I wanted to see where they were. When I crossed the line, it was all relief."

Eschewing the usual sit-and-kick approach to championship racing, Sweden's Emil Millan de la Oliva made a bold bid from the gun and led by six seconds at the one kilometre checkpoint in 2:52.93. The Swede was duly caught on the penultimate lap by a dwindling group including Keen and the Turkish duo of Omar Amactan and Islam Tasci.

The Turkish pair didn't have any answer to Keen's change of pace as he stormed to the title in 8:27.38 with Amactan setting a PB of 8:28.04 to win silver although Tasci was overhauled for the bronze medal by the US-based Ryan Oosting from the Netherlands, 8:28.22 to 8:29.93.

"I had to survive a long flight," said the Dutchman. “But fortunately the change of timezones did affect me."


Jumbo-Gula breaks championship record in 100m semifinal

Ireland won a silver medal at the inaugural European U18 Championships in Tbilisi two years ago courtesy of Gina Akpe-Moses but Patience Jumbo-Gula must harbour aspirations of going one step further in the final, although she demurred from making any predictions.

"It was a good race, and I felt myself much better, because I came out strong," she said. "My start was great and I maintained my good form. In tomorrow's final I would like to remain calm and concentrated, because it is the key to success."

After clocking 11.80 into a 1.7 m/s headwind in the heats, Jumbo-Gula then eclipsed Akpe-Moses' championship record of 11.67 - set in the semifinal stage in Tbilisi -  with 11.59 in the semifinals ahead of Iceland's Gudbjorg Jona Bjarnadottir in 11.70.

Cassie-Ann Pemberton was faster still in the third semifinal but the wind picked up markedly in between races and the Brit clocked 11.56 aided by a 3.1 m/s tailwind.

The men's 100m final looks set to be a close encounter on paper with only 0.13 separating the eight finalists based on semifinal times. Germany's Fabian Olbert (10.73), the Netherlands' Raphael Bouju (10.76) and Norway's Pal Haugen Lillefosse (10.79) were the three semifinal winners.

Lillefosse will return to the arena ahead of the 100m final tomorrow evening for the qualifying round of the pole vault. He leads the world U18 lists with a 5.46m clearance from the indoor season.

There was heightened interest in the 800m heats which featured Ireland's Sophie O'Sullivan, daughter of former world and European 5000m champion Sonia O'Sullivan. There were still five athletes still in contention for the three qualifying places with 50 metres remaining but Sophie spurted through a gap to win the second heat in 2:12.23. 

Another athlete following in some very famous footsteps is Italy's Larissa Iapichino, the daughter of former two-time world champion Fiona May. Iapichino was the third best qualifier in the long jump with 6.08m.