Bukowiecki improves again in Ostrava

Bukowiecki improves again in Ostrava
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Poland's Konrad Bukowiecki will be aiming for a shot put medal at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade from 3-5 March.

Polish teenager Konrad Bukowiecki continues to go from strength-to-strength and set a personal best of 21.15m at the Czech Indoor Gala in Ostrava on Tuesday night, the sixth of this winter´s nine European Athletics Indoor Permit Meetings.

Still only 19 but in his first year in the senior ranks as he turns 20 next month, Bukowiecki opened with 20.44m and then reached his prodigious distance with his second effort. No one of his age has ever sent the indoor shot out further.

He put 21.05m with his third attempt followed by 20.77m and then finished off with two fouls.

Bukowiecki also inflicted a confidence-boosting defeat on Germany’s reigning European indoor champion David Storl, who had a fine series with all six of his attempts going further than 20.75m but the two-time former world champion had to settle for second place with a best of 20.97m.

The pair are expected to duel again at this year’s European Athletics Indoor Championships, which will be held in the Serbian capital of Belgrade between 3-5 March.

“I’m pleased with the result but I should have thrown further. However, it’s good that things are starting to come together after my training stint in South Africa,” reflected the Polish putter.

“Technically, I was more pleased with my 21.05 effort. I think this is the third or fourth time I’ve beaten David now. He kept pushing me throughout the competition and that sort of pressure drives me to do better. He’s a formidable rival and I think it will be a great competition at the European indoors.”

In a competition of excellent depth, Czech Republic’s Tomáš Staněk finished third with his opening throw of 20.69m but withdrew from the competition afterwards with a slight leg injury.

Last’s year’s European under-18 pole vault champion Emmanouíl Karális, from Greece, continued his upward trajectory when the 17-year-old cleared a personal best of 5.60m before failing at 5.70m.

Among the plethora of teenagers to impress in Ostrava, local star Michaela Hrubá won the women’s high jump with 1.90m, equalling her own best mark in the world this year by a junior.

Like Karális, the 2015 world youth and 2016 world junior champion will be looking to add to her list of accolades at this summer’s European Athletics U20 Championships in Grosseto, Italy.  

Another Czech athlete to raise the rafters from the 1000 avid athletics fans in the new Ostrava Indoor Hall was two-time defending world 400m hurdles champion Zuzana Hejnová.

Running without the barriers, Hejnová won the 400m in 51.96 and comfortably beat fellow hurdler Denmark’s Sara Slott Petersen, who was second in 52.87.

Poland’s Justyna Święty won a separate race in 52.73.

The top men’s race on the track came in the 1500m which saw Hungary’s Tamás Kazi set a personal best of 3:40.62 and just edge out Germany’s in-form Timo Benitz by 0.04.

Ukraine’s Hanna Plotitsyna equalled her personal best when winning the women’s 60m hurdles in 7.99.

Notable victories by non-European athletes included a women’s 1500m win by Ethiopia’s Axumawit Embaye in 4:06.68 and Bahraini sprinter Andrew Fisher setting a national record when winning the 600m in 6.57.

Grenada’s Bralon won the 300m in 31.97 coming home ahead of Czech Republic’s reigning world and European 400m indoor champion Pavel Maslák, who was second in 32.19.