Reigning European 200m champion Bruno Hortelano added the 400m mark to his collection of Spanish national records –he already holds the 100m and 200m records – when he won in a European-leading 44.69at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Madrid on Friday night (22).
Hortelano suffered a serious right hand injury in a car accident in September 2016 that required a series of operations and he missed the whole of 2017. This year, having not run a competitive 400m since 2015, he has returned to the longer sprint and done so with aplomb.
Coming into the home straight, there was nothing to choose between himself, his compatriot Oscar Husillos and Dominican Republic’s Lugelin Santos.
In a thrilling three-way duel over the final 100 metres, Santos just prevailed in 44.66 while Hortelano took almost a second off his previous best and consigned to history the 29-year-old Spanish record of 44.96 which had belonged to Cayetano Cornet since 1989.
Hortelano – wearing a black glove on his previously injured right hand: "I already consider it my symbol. I will always wear it because when I see it I always get excited remembering the two hard years that I have gone through," – then surprised everyone when he insisted in the wake of his magnificent run that it was going to be his last outing over one lap of the track this season.
“That’s it I will not run 400m again this summer. I have dropped below 45 seconds and with that I have done the homework that my coach Adrian Durant gave me. He said: 'Until you go below 45 seconds, you do not stop running then!'” I will go to Berlin to defend my 200m title,” commented Hortelano.
However, despite his current conviction that he will only run the shorter sprints at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships, he still has plenty of time to change his mind.
Husillos also showed his Berlin medal potential, which was already apparent when he crossed the line first at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in what would have been a European indoor record before later being disqualified for a lane violation, with his first time under 45 seconds when he finished third in 44.73.
Another long-standing European national record fell in the 100m when the 2017 European U20 champion Filippo Tortu ran 9.99.
Tortu, who only turned 20 a week ago, thus becomes the youngest European sprinter ever to run under 10 seconds. The domestic significance of his performance was that he beat Italian sprint legend Pietro Mennea’s 1979 record of 10.01 which, at the time, was also a European record.
"He (Mennea) remains the greatest, there are no discussions. I am happy for this result, but Pietro made sporting history. Today, 99 per cent of the credit for this performance belongs to my father and coach Salvino. He provided the technical advice and the motivation. He has an ability to innovate, to bring new ideas and methods. He is a great coach,” said Tortu.
For the record, after clocking 10.04 in his heat, Tortu had to settle for second best in the final behind the Chinese sprinter Su Bingtian who equalled the Asian record when winning in 9.91. Both men were able to enjoy the almost perfect conditions thanks to Madrid’s helpful altitude of 650 metres, warm conditions of almost 30 degrees centigrade and a very gentle breeze on their backs.
There was a plethora of other European wins in the Spanish capital which served as a form chart for Berlin 2018.
In the longer distances on the track, Alvaro de Arriba gave the home fans plenty to cheer when he won the 800m in 1:45.50.
Azebaijan’s Alexis Copello lead from start-to-finish in the triple jump, opening with 16.81m and then bounding out to a winning 17.01m in the fourth round.
Likewise, German shot putter Cristina Schwanitz led from the first round when she sent her opening effort out to 18.66m followed by 18.96m in the next round.
She produced 19.02m in the fourth round which, after two fouls in the last rounds, extended her winning streak to seven competitions since the start of the outdoor season all of which have been further than 19 metres.
Russia’s Dannil Lysenko was flawless up to and including 2.30m but did not attempt anything higher after clinching the win. Portugal’s Diogo Ferreira was a surprise winner of the pole vault with 5.66m before unsuccessfully trying to improve his own national record with three attempts at 5.72m.
Poland’s hammer world record holder Anita Wlodarczyk was more than two metres better than anyone else, in this case her compatriot Joana Fiodorow who was second with 73.46m, after throwing 76.17m in the second round while Great Britain’s Shara Proctor won the long jump with 6.73m.