Ruth Beitia, Orlando Ortega and Adam Kszczot all showed fine form ahead of next week’s European Athletics Indoor Championships with impressive wins at the Villa de Madrid indoor meeting in the Spanish capital on Friday evening.
Rio 2016 Olympic Games champion Beitia, the poster girl for Spain’s top indoor meeting, dominated the women’s high jump at the last of the nine European Athletics Indoor Permit Meetings this winter.
Having already won the competition when she went over 1.92m at the first time of asking, Beitia edged over 1.95m on her second attempt at the Polideportivo Gallur in the south west of the city, just nudging the bar as she went over; but then produced a much better effort at 1.98m on her first attempt, getting plenty of height and going well clear for a season’s best despite gently tickling the bar with her calves.
The 37-year-old 2013 European indoor champion then had three unsuccessful attempts at what would have been a Spanish indoor record-equalling height of 2.01m.
“This was a very good competition, I’m very happy, especially as there was a lot going on in the centre of the arena which disturbed my normal competition routine. After finishing only fifth [at the last European indoor championships] in Prague two years ago, I want to return to the podium in Belgrade,” commented Beitia.
Orlando Ortega is another of Spain’s big medal hopes for the Euro Indoors in the Serbian capital next week and the Rio 110m hurdles silver medallist flew to a time of 7.51 in the 60m hurdles, just 0.03 away from his recent Spanish record.
It was a confident outing from Ortega which sets up an eagerly anticipated duel in Belgrade between himself and Great Britain’s 2017 world leader Andrew Pozzi.
Ortega passed effortless through his semi-final and won his first race in 7.65 while, in the other semi, his main domestic rival Yidiel Contreras stumbled badly 10 metres from the line and didn’t qualify.
In the final, Ortega was away the quickest and hurdled cleanly to win by a huge margin with Javier Colomo a distant second in 7.80.
Adam Kszczot was an impressively easy winner of the 800m, running 1:46.38 after taking the lead exactly with one lap to go and running away from the rest of the field.
No European other than himself has run faster this winter and it confirmed his status as the clear favourite over four laps of the track in Belgrade.
Another European win in the night’s feature events came in the women’s 60m hurdles when Ukraine’s Hanna Plotisyna, a finalist at the last European indoor championships, took 0.01 off her personal best to win in 7.98.
Her compatriot Maryna Kylypko was clear up to and including her winning height of 4.47m in the women’s pole vault before bringing the bar down three times at 4.62m.
Genzebe Dibaba’s much heralded attempt on the 1000m world indoor record unfortunately fizzled out over the last lap as the Ethiopian finished in 2:33.06, three seconds outside her target time.
However, one event that did live up to expectations and get the crowd on its feet was the men’s 400m with Grenada’s Bralon Taplin clocking 45.19, a personal best and the second fastest time in the world this year.
Italy’s 2015 European under-20 400m hurdles bronze medallist Ayomide Folorunso won without the barriers when she clocked a 400m best of 52.97 to win the women’s event over two laps of the track.
Juliet Itoya won the all-Spanish women’s long jump contest with her fifth round effort of 6.48m while fellow Spaniard Eusebio Caceres took the men’s long jump victory with a best effort of 7.88m.
Cuba’s Alex Copello won an entertaining men’s triple jump with a final round 17.10m with France’s Harold Correa equalling his indoor best with 16.94m for second place and Latvia’s multi-talented Elvijs Misans, equalling his all-time best with 16.77m in third.