Austria’s top indoor meeting, the International Gugl Meeting Indoor Linz, saw a plethora of European victories at the fourth of this winter’s European Athletics Indoor Permit Meetings on Friday 10 February.
Pride of place arguably went to Slovenia’s Luka Janežič, who won over two laps of the track in the TipsArena and improved his 400m season’s best to 46.35, just 0.03 away from the national indoor record he set at the same meeting 12 months ago.
Janežič, the 2015 European U23 400m bronze medallist, made the final at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam last summer and showed he can rise to the occasion when he set a national record of 45.07 in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games semi-finals.
Currently third on the 2017 European indoor list, he has the realistic target of not only reducing his indoor national record this winter but also becoming the first Slovenian man since the country became independent to take a medal at the European Athletics Indoor Championships.
The 2017 Euro Indoors will be held in Belgrade, Serbia, between 3-5 March.
The 1.92m-tall Slovenian, who is still only 21 and could also be a contender for gold at the European Athletics U23 Championships this summer, was always in control of the race in Linz after powering away over the first 100m.
He held a two-metre advantage at the bell and didn’t falter over the second lap.
Croatia’s Mateo Ruzik, came through strongly over the last 100 metres to take second in an indoor best of 46.74.
Hungary’s Benjamin Kovacs won an interesting duel over the final lap of the 1500m, just holding off Serbia’s Nicola Bursac, the pair clocking indoor personal bests of 3:45.37 and 3:45.64 respectively.
In the field, Croatia’s Alen Melon won the high jump with 2.18m while Slovakia’s Tomas Veselka grabbed the triple jump win in the final round, leaping an indoor best of 16.28m, having trailed in second place until his sixth effort.
The long jump provided the highlight of the women’s events, helped by the presence of emerging local multi-events star Ivona Dadic.
The phenomenal 14-year-old French jumper Heather Arneton won with her second round 6.41m, her only valid jump as she threw everything into trying to improve on her recent world youth indoor best of 6.57m
However, Dadic – getting big applause from the crowd every time she took to the runway in the wake of her Austrian pentathlon record of 4520 points last weekend – kept up the pressure throughout the competition and the 2016 European Athletics Championships bronze medallist added 15cm to her indoor best with a jump of 6.39m in the third round.
Greece’s Háido Alexoúli made it an entertaining competition when she equalled her indoor best with 6.38m with her second effort but eventually had to settle for third place.
Croatia’s Ivana Lončarek won the 60m hurdles in convincing fashion with 8.06 having already improved to 8.08 in her heat.
It was the third and fourth personal best run of the winter for the 25-year-old former teenage prodigy who was fifth in the 2007 world youth championships 100m hurdles, having started the year with a best of 8.22.
Amalie Lederer won a close women’s 60m in 7.39, just 0.04 separating the top three.
Czech Republic’s Klara Seidlova took second in a personal best of 7.42 while her compatriot Barbora Prochazkova was third in 7.43, the latter unable to reproduce her from in the heats when she ran 7.38, the fastest time of the evening.
Slovenia’s Agata Zupin won the 200m in 24.11 while Italy’s Irene Baldessari took the honours in the 800m with a win in 2:04.72.