Harting in the mood for another spectacular year

Harting in the mood again for a spectacular year
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Germany's Robert Harting soared to the top of the World discus rankings with 67.46m from the 19th Werfer Cup meeting in Wiesbaden on Saturday

Robert Harting will be chasing his own place in European Athletics history this summer - and he has started with a bang. 

The sport’s leading discus thrower soared to the top of the World rankings with 67.46m at the 19th Werfer Cup meeting in Wiesbaden on Saturday to show he means business once more.

Since winning the World title in Berlin in 2009, German Harting has been unbeatable at the major events, regaining that crown both in Daegu in 2011 and Moscow last summer, a year after European Athletics Championship glory in Helsinki which came a few weeks before Olympic success in London.

If he triumphs in Zurich in August, he will become only the second man to retain the European title, and the first for 60 years, bridging the gap created by Italian Adolfo Consoling who won it three times - in 1946, 1950 and 1954.

But Harting is not the sole German discus thrower making an impressive start to this summer.

The Wiesbaden event saw fine performances from his teammates Martin Wierig, the 2007 European Under-23 champion, who was second with 66.59m, and Daniel Jasinski, third with a personal best of 65.98m.

Their respective throws put them fourth and fifth in the European Athletics standings to further emphasise how strong this event is in their country where Harting is some standard-bearer for the rest to try to match.

But it was not only in throwing where German athletes were making their mark this weekend.

The NTC Pure Athletics Elite meeting in Clermont saw four leading European sprint times - two of them by Germans.

Lucas Jakubczyk ran a personal best of 10.07 as he finished second behind Zambia’s Gerald Phiri who won the men's 100m in a national record of 10.03 with Great Britain’s Richard Kilty, the World Indoor 60m champion, third in 10.12, the second best time of his career.

Then over 200m, Aleixio Platini-Menga triumphed in 20.43 to match the European lead set by Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure at the Diamond League in Doha on Friday night.

British athletes achieved the other two 2014 European bests at this Florida event: William Sharman ran 13.28 in the heats of the 110m hurdles, while Bianca Williams was third in the women’s 100m in a personal best of 11.18 as Jamaican Simone Facey won in 11.09.

Banking qualifying times for the European Athletics Championships was very much the order of the day around other parts of the continent over the weekend.

Even though the conditions were windy in Highgate on Saturday, Jo Pavey, now 40, the 10,000m silver medallist in Helsinki, booked her place on the plane to Zurich with an impressive victory in the British 10,000m Championships.

Chasing the Zurich time of 33:30 Pavey won in 32:11.04.

And she was not alone in meeting the standard because in second was France's SPAR European Cross-Country champion Sophie Duarte in 32:36.32, on her track debut at the distance, with Beth Potter, of Britain, running a personal best of 32:45.69 in third and Ireland's double European Cross-Country champion Fionualla Britton fourth in 32:57.49.

With the men needing a mark of 28:55 for Zurich, Andy Vernon won in 28:26.59 from Chris Thompson, the 2010 European silver medallist, second in 28:49.77 and Jonathan Mellor, third in 28:52.90.

There was an unexpected winner at the 2nd Athens Street Pole Vault on Sunday as Greece's Dimitris Patsoukakis achieved a personal best of 5.62m - 10 centimetres above the Zurich standard - and in the process beat on countback his country's superstar of the event, the World indoor champion Konstadinos Filippidis, with Poland´s Piotr Lisek right on the Zurich mark in third with 5.52m.

Valladolid was the venue for the best ever outdoor pole vault by a Spanish woman as Naroa Agirre went over at 4.51m, easily above the Zurich of 4.35m, with a brilliant display at the city's 24th International meeting.

Staying in Spain, on the final day of the Spanish University Championships on Sunday, Jorge Gimeno's triple jump of 16.61m made him another athlete to achieve the Zurich standard (16.55m).

Hungary's Olympic hammer champion Krisztian Pars was in fine form at the country's club championships in Zalaegerszeg as he won with 79.05m, while in Montgeron, at the Elite meeting which opened the French track season, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde returned from Doha to win the 110m hurdles in 13.45 and Melina Robert-Michon, the World Championship silver medallist, took the discus with 60.22m.

And to finish…the incredible tale of the European record time which was set in Wroclaw on Saturday.

At the mere age of just 104, Poland’s Stanisław Kowalski ran 32.79 to break the 100m record in the 100+ age category by a second and as he crossed the line, he said: “I feel like a new man.”

THE WEEK AHEAD

It is a another busy week of meetings in Europe, with 50 events. For all the dates, visit our European Athletics Calendar