Belgium’s Pieter-Jan Hannes, the 2013 European under-23 1500m and cross country champion, provided the highlight of the sixth of this winter's European Athletics Indoor Permit Meetings when he set a world-leading 2000m time of 5:04.33 in his local IFAM Indoor meeting in Gent on Saturday night.
Hannes started the race with the intention of taking a tilt at Emiel Puttemans’ 43-year-old Belgian record, and former world best, of 5:00.0 but the mark from 1973 survived the night and Hannes crossed the line with a look of slight disappointment on his face despite going to the top of the 2016 list.
Other excellent performances on the track by European athletes included two French victories in the Belgian city.
Thomas Jordier took the 400m in 46.98 while Sandra Gomis won the 60m hurdles in 8.01, just 0.01 away from her personal best.
Great Britain’s Dave King looked good in the 60m hurdles heats when he clocked a personal best of 7.66 but then had to settle for second place in the final when he was just edged out by another of the large French contingent who had travelled the short distance over the border, with Benjamin Sedecias winning in 7.71 to King’s 7.72.
Moroccan teenager Mostafa Smaili won the 800m in 1:46.50 with the Netherlands’ Thijmen Kupers second in a season’s best of 1:46.57 to go third on the 2016 European list.
The meeting in Gent also saw Italy’s former world youth and junior high jump champion Alessia Trost return to competition after an absence of almost eight months.
In 2015, Trost won the European indoor silver medal and then the under 23 title but brought her season to an end in mid-July after injury to her right Achilles tendon. She won after clearing 1.90m on her first attempt, beating local multi-events star Nafissatou Thiam on countback after both women failed three times at 1.93m.
However, arguably the best result of the night in the field events came from Chinese pole vaulter Huang Bokai who won with a personal best of 5.70m.
The men’s 1500m proved to be an exciting battle between with Ethiopia’s Dawit Wolde winning in 3:40.47 from his compatriot Mekonnen Gebremedhin, who was second in 3:41.14 and Kenyan junior Gilbert Kwemboi third in 3:41.78.
Another Ethiopian win came from 800m runner Habitam Alemu, who won over four laps of the Topsporthal arena in the Flanders city in 2:02.23 with 2015 world championships finalist Shelayna Oskan-Clarke second in an indoor best of 2:02.66.
German sprinter Tatjana Pinto won the women’s 60m in 7.30 after clocking 7.29 in her heat, the Netherlands’ Patrick Van Luijck won men’s equivalent in 6.68.
Ireland´s Adam McMullen improved his career best to 7.83m to win the long jump while Great Britain’s Matt Smith won the men’s high jump with an indoor best of 2.23m, beating many better known names.