Polish stars used the Pedro’s Cup in Lodz, the third of this year’s European Athletics Indoor Permit Meetings, to highlight their medal prospects for next month’s IAAF World Indoor Championships with rising shot put talent Michal Haratyk deservedly taking many of the plaudits.
Haratyk, still only 23, who boasted a best of 20.10m at the start of the year, had the greatest competition of his life.
He quickly took the lead when he opened with a personal best of 20.80m, improved by one centimetre in the next round and then went over 21 metres for the first time when he reached 21.10m in the fifth round.
However, Haratyk was still not finished.
With the competition won, and teenage talent Konrad Konrad Bukowiecki as well as two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski defeated, he sent his shot flying out with his sixth and final attempt to a world-leading 21.35m.
“I have not even thought yet about (the World Indoor Championships in) Portland. I’m focusing primarily on the Polish indoor championships; but I am glad that the six years of training has finally started to pay off,” reflected the hero of the night.
“I had success as a junior but then injuries. Everything is possible but I also know that this is just the beginning of the season and many of the top putters have still to show what they can do,” he added.
Bukowiecki, just 18, finished second with a magnificent 20.58m, his second European junior indoor best of the winter with the senior implement while Majewski was third with 20.09m after struggling with technical issues and fouling four times.
“I know what I did wrong and what I need to work on. So I will not easily pass over my crown,” said the popular Majewski after graciously congratulating the two men who beat him.
High jumper Kamila Lićwinko warmed up for the defence of her world indoor title when winning with 1.97m, which equalled the world-leading height.
Lićwinko cleared her winning height on the second attempt before three unsuccessful attempts at 2.00m
Spain’s two-time reigning European champion Ruth Beitia was second with 1.94m.
Another home winner in Łódź was teenage sprinter Ewa Swoboda, who recently set a European junior indoor record of 7.13m.
On Friday, she notched up her fourth consecutive victory this winter when she won in 7.15.
“I’m pleased that I got the job done but I still have a lot of work to do on my start, I’m a snail in this respect,” joked Swoboda.
Two-time European indoor 60m hurdles champion Alina Talay, from Belarus, is one behind Swoboda with only three straight wins to her name in 2016 but she carried on her winning streak with a victory in a European-leading time of 7.97 over the barriers.
Talay showed that she was the woman to beat with a 8.03 win in her heat earlier in the evening.
Cuban Yunier Perez equalled the 2016 world-best time in his event when he stopped the clock in 6.53 to win the men’s 60m. Great Britain’s reigning world and European indoor champion Richard Kilty was second in 6.62.
Spain’s Orlando Ortega wasn’t quite as quick as Wednesday night in Dusseldorf, when he won the 60m hurdles in a Spanish record and world-leading time of 7.49, but despite a slightly sluggish start he still was an impressive winner in 7.52.
Piotr Lisek, a bronze medallist at both the European Indoor Championships and World Championships last year, added to the string of Polish victories on Friday night when he won with 5.67m.
Three men got over this height but Lisek was the only one to do so on his second attempt and, with nobody going any higher, he took the honours on countback.