Stanek is the big shot in Ostrava

Tomas Stanek at the Belgrade 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships
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Tomas Stanek at the Belgrade 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships

Shot putter Tomas Stanek put down an impressive marker in his pursuit of a medal at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in five weeks’ time with as he captured the headlines on home territory at the Czech Indoor Gala in Ostrava on Thursday evening.

On an evening of national records, the opening European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting of the year saw the 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships silver medallist send out an important message to his rivals across the globe with a winning effort and world-leading mark of 21.61m in the third round.

Bosnia and Herzogovina’s Mesud Pezer was second with a national indoor record of 20.68m, also in the third round, but was almost a metre in arrears of Stanek. Croatia’s Stipe Zunic was third with 20.54m while fourth was Poland’s current European indoor champion Konrad Bukowiecki, who had a best of 20.29m.

“I did not expect it to fly so far,” said Stanek. “I did a good job in training. I missed the last (two) attempts because I knew I would win and I did not want to take the risk.”

Stanek’s first round 19.93m saw him back in fourth as Pezer initially took charge with 20.61m but the Czech athlete moved in front with his next attempt of 21.36m and was never headed. A fourth round effort of 20.94m ended his involvement on the night.

The Spanish men’s indoor 60m record of 6.55 had been held by Angel David Rodriguez for five years but it is no more after Yunier Perez won in a meeting record of 6.53. “I am excited to open my season with such a time,” said the 32-year-old Perez.

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Ratcheting up the euphoria, Poland’s ever-effervescent 2017 European U23 100m champion Ewa Swoboda was “super excited” after winning the women’s 60m in a season’s best of 7.21.

The Polish sprinter had too much for local star Klara Seidlova, who was second in 7.25, with the Netherlands’ Jamile Samuel third in 7.29.

The bronze medallist in Belgrade last year, this performance is a great base for Swoboda to move towards Birmingham.

“I am super excited. I really did not expect 7.21 in my first start. It is a good sign that the training and all the preparation is going well.

“I have many supporters here, my parents, my manager, my coach and my boyfriend too. Maybe it was the right motivation for me to run so fast,” said the delighted Pole.

Petr Svoboda is one of the great legends of Czech athletics and the 2011 European indoor 60m hurdles champion showed once more that winning never leaves you, despite years of injury problems in the wake of his continental title.

Now 33, Svoboda triumphed in the final in 7.61 but the home star had gone even quicker in the heats as he won in a meeting record of 7.56.

However, there is no bigger indoor Czech star than Pavel Maslak, who will be chasing a hat-trick of world indoor 400m titles in Birmingham to match the triple success he has achieved indoors at the European Indoor Athletics Championships.

In Ostrava, Maslak had a busy evening, winning two races over 300m as he maintains his speed work.

The first, just after 1700 local time, saw him triumph in 32.83 and just under two hours later, Maslak went even quicker. This time he won in 32.52 from Poland’s Karol Zalewski, who ran a personal best of 32.60 behind him.

“It was harder than I expected, especially (in the second race) because Karol surprised me as he was well prepared,” said Maslak. “On the other hand, I was definitely on my way to a better time. I am happy with that. When a hundred (metres) is added to that in 13 seconds, it could be some 45.5.”

It was a good evening for Greece as 18-year-old Emmanouil Karalis, the 2016 European U18 champion, won the pole vault with 5.62m, after having a clean sheet throughout the competition until he had three failures at a Greek indoor U20 record of 5.76m.

“I enjoyed every moment of this competition and 5.62m is a good result for me,” said Karalis. “I have been thinking about the world junior record (5.82m) a lot and I know I can jump it.”

His compatriot, the 2017 European U20 champion Miltiadis Tentoglou, won the men’s long jump with 7.93m, his only legal effort.

Tentoglou commented: “I was attacking eight metres but I had some technical problems with my run up. I had five fault attempts which made me feel frustrated. The jumps were around 8.10m, 8.15m but I missed the right rhythm. I will work on it back in Greece.

In the women’s high jump, countback separated Ukraine’s Iryna Herashchenko from Czech Republic’s reigning world U20 champion Michaela Hruba. Both cleared 1.93m on their third attempts before failing three times at 1.95m with the verdict Herashchenko on the basis of less failures during the competition.