Home throwers set up a dream final in javelin; Lemaitre poised to defend his crown
|Ukrainian Oleksiy Kasyanov heads to the second
day of the decathlon with a 61 points lead
over Germany's Pascal Behrenbruch - 4352 to 4291.
But she did more that night in Helsinki in 1983 than just triumph in sensational style.
Lillak set down such a marker for her successors that the crowd here in this part of the world almost demand a performance level to set the pulse racing.
It is no wonder then which event of this first evening session of these European Athletics Championships brought the Finnish fans to their feet.
Mo Farah, of Great Britain, might have produced a superlative performance to retain his 5000m title but the javelin qualifying competition delivered the biggest roar.
The reason was Ari Mannio, whose second round throw flew 84.31m and sent him into the final with the furthest distance and the man, no doubt, the majority of supporters were talking about as they headed home.
The final is tonight, and it should be some occasion because Mannio has flexed his muscles at just the right time. His first round effort of 77.81m was just a warm up for a main course that was his best throw of the season by 57 centimetres.
It is the first time that Mannio, 24, the 2006 World junior silver medallist, has made a major senior final, and the reason there could be so much drama is that he will be joined there by teammate Tero Pitkmaki, the 2007 world champion who has never won the European title and is promising something better than tonight.
He threw 80.66m in the second qualifying group won by Ukraine's Oleksandr Pyatnytsya in 82.37m.
Pitkamaki, who has silver from the 2006 European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg and bronze from 2010 in Barcelona, added: "I just played it safe - but I feel I can throw longer tomorrow."
Mannio said: "I am going to the final confident that I can better my result."
On the track, Farah was outstanding in the 5000m. He was beaten into second in Gothenburg but turned that around to win two years ago and looked so impressive this evening as he triumphed in 13:29.91 from Germany's Arne Gabius in 13:31.83 with Polat Kemboi Arikan, of Turkey, third in 13:32.63.
Farah said: "It means so much to me to win the European Championship title again."
The men's 100m semi-finals were something special too as defending champion, Christophe Lemaitre, ran a superb 10.14 to win, the same time as in the first round, which was the fastest ever opening heat in the history of the Championships.
But Norway's Jaysuma Saidy Ndure was even quicker in his semi, winning in 10.13, with Jimmy Vicaut, of France, finishing first in the third in 10.22.
Ukraine's Olesya Povh beat defending champion, Verena Sailer, of Germany, in a brilliant women's 100m semi-final of immense power.
Povh triumphed in 11.13 from Sailer in 11.17 while Ivet Lalova looked equally impressive in 11.23 as she won the other semi.
In the women's 400m, Belarusian Ilona Usovich set down the marker by winning her first round heat - the last race of the four - in the quickest time, 51.98.
While it is obviously not always the plan to peak with a semi-final and final ahead, it equally does no harm to have a psychological advantage over the rest of the qualifiers.
Usovich ran a controlled race as she beat Muriel Hurtis, of France, who ran a season's best of 52.11 to finish second, with Jitka Bartonickova, of the Czech Republic, third in 53.15.
Russian Kseniya Zadorina, in 52.18, Olha Zemlyak, of the Ukraine, in 52.48 and France's Marie Gayot, in 52.46, were the other three heat winners among the 16 who made it into tomorrow's semi-final.
Turkey's Tarik Langat Akdag ran a season's best to win the second semi-final of the 3000m steeplechase in 8:27.31, a race which was faster than the first one where Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad took victory in 8:31.05.
There was disappointment, though, for Britain's Luke Gunn who tripped in the home straight in that second heat and could not go on, pulling up 150 metres later.
Ukrainian Oleksiy Kasyanov heads into tomorrow's second day of the decathlon with a 61 points lead over Germany's Pascal Behrenbruch - 4352 to 4291.
Kasyanov led all the way after winning the opening event, the 100m, in 10.57, and reaching this halfway point with second place in the 400m in 48.07 in a race won in 48.02 by Serbia's Mihail Dudas, who is third overall with 4193.
Lithuanian Raivydas Stanys and Russian Sergey Mudrov both achieved season's bests of 2.26m to lead the way in high jump qualification.