At 34 Beitia continues to impress

Ruth Beitia
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Spain's Ruth Beitia here competing in the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg last year, produced a superb 2.00m high jump in Sabadell, Spain, over the weekend.

It is not long ago that Ruth Beitia had just started life as a retired athlete. But once more the decision to return to the sport is looking like it will pay rich dividends for the brilliant Spanish high jumper.                             

In Sabadell at the weekend, Beitia, who is 35 in April, showed her home crowd that she remains at the top of her form by producing a superb 2.00m jump which will carry her towards the World Indoor Championships in Sopot next week as one of the favourites.

She will go there with a Polish athlete vying for a podium place as Kamila Stepaniuk-Licwinko had quite a weekend, too, as she also jumped 2.00m, for the second time this month.

Their efforts put them joint-second best in the world this year, just a centimetre behind Russia’s Maria Kuchina at the top of the rankings.

Stepaniuk-Licwinko’s jump came at the Ergo Arena, the venue for next week’s championships, and it was some performance as she equalled her national record.

It seems European athletes are going to have a major say in where the medals go in this event.

The track in Sopot looks fast as at those Polish national championships, Dariusz Kuc twice clocked 6.60 in the men’s 60m.

German shot putter David Storl will be chasing his first gold medal at the World Indoor championships and he remains in great shape as he proved in Leipzig.

Outdoors, he is a double world champion - retaining his title in Moscow - and European champion but he has never won a major indoor crown, taking silver at the last World Indoor Championships in Istanbul in 2012, a year after also finishing second at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Paris.

He has a shown an excellent level of consistency this winter, with this victory coming at 21.22m (he is third in the world with 21.33m from the start of the month) and there could be a double success for Germany in Sopot as teammate Christina Schwanitz, the gold medallist from Gothenburg, won the women’s shot in Leipzig with an impressive 19.89m.

In Moscow, Ivana Spanovic became the first Serbian athlete to win a medal at the World Championships when she took bronze in the long jump and her Sopot preparations have “podium” written all over them as well.

At the Balkan Indoor Championships in Istanbul on Saturday, Spanovic won with 6.92m, a national record and the second best in the world in 2014. Russian Svetlana Denyaeva-Birkyukova tops the rankings with 6.98m, a distance she jumped twice in January.

In Bordeaux, double European 100m champion Christophe Lemaitre won the French national 60m title in 6.63 while Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, took the 60m hurdles in 7.49, he who leads the world rankings with 7.45.

Marco Fassinotti increased the Italian national high jump record to 2.34m as he won in Ancona.

In La Coruna, Ayad Lamdassem, in 1:02.57, and Alessandra Aguilar, in 1:11:16, were crowned Spain’s half-marathons champions.

 THE WEEK AHEAD

Tuesday - Prague Indoor (Prague).

Thursday - 13th Internationales Springermeeting (Pole vault m/High jump w)(Dessau), International Indoor Meeting (Pole vault)(Bad Oeynhausen), International match (BLR-UKR-TUR) (Mogilyov).

Friday - Meeting National (Metz), National Indoor Cup (high jump) (Kherson).

Saturday - Belarus International competitions (Minsk), Indoor ISTAF (Berlin), Russian Cup (Irkutsk).

Sunday - 9th Oger Antalya Marathon - Runtaya 2014 (Antalya), Carrier 20 van Alphen (Alphen a/d Rijn), Funchal Half Marathon (Funchal), Reading Half Marathon (Reading), Roma-Ostia Half Marathon (Rome).