Husillos and Bahta improve their own national records in Madrid

Oscar Husillos after setting a Spanish indoor record of 45.86 in Madrid
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Oscar Husillos after setting a Spanish indoor record of 45.86 in Madrid

It takes a lot to overshadow Czech shot putter Tomas Stanek in his current form but at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in Madrid the plaudits deservedly went to local 400m talent Oscar Husillos and Swedish distance runner Meraf Bahta, who both clocked national records on Thursday.

Husillos, 24 made a big breakthrough at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 when he improved to 45.22 and 45.16 in his heat and semifinal to finish the year eighth on the European list over one lap of the track. He also finished fifth in the 4x400m in London.

However, he moved up a notch in the Spanish capital when he improved his own national indoor record to 45.86, taking 0.06 off the mark he had set in Salamanca just under 12 months ago.

As well as the time on the clock, Husillos also got the scalp of Czech Republic’s two-time world indoor 400m champion Pavel Maslak.

Maslak had a slight lead at the bell, passed in a quick 21.49, but coming off the final bend not only Husillos but also Slovenia’s Luka Janezic went passed the pre-race favourite, with Janezic finishing second in 46.08 and Maslak third in 46.14.

“I have to be honest and say I didn’t see the clock at the halfway point, all I was concentrating on was holding something back because I know Maslak is a strong finisher. Now I hope to improve the record again at the Spanish Championships in Valencia (on 17-18 February) or at the World Indoor Championships,” commented Husillos.

Bahta also came from behind on the last lap to win the 3000m in 8:42.46, improving her own national record from the mark of 8:43.00 she ran in Birmingham last February.

The Swede, who had just flown back to Europe a few days before after a winter training camp in South Africa, took up the pace briefly three laps from home but at the bell she was back in third before surging again to hold off the Ethiopian pair of Fantu Worku and Meskerem Mamo.

In fourth, Great Britain’s Rosie Clarke posted a personal best of 8:47.30.

Another national record, albeit equalled, went to Greek pole vaulter Kostadinos Filippidis, who cleared 5.85m on his second attempt. In a game of cat-and-mouse, Filippidis had passed the previous height and watched Poland’s world-leader Piotr Lisek go over 5.80m with his second attempt.

Lisek then passed at 5.85m and returned to action at 5.90m after Filippídis had cleared while the sat on the sidelines, but the Pole’s gamble didn’t pay off and he brought the bar down three times. With the stage to himself, Filippidis then failed three times at 5.95m.

Tomas Stanek couldn’t quite reach the 22-metre line on this occasion, as the Czech putter had done in Dusseldorf two nights previously, but dominated the shot put competition, taking an early lead with his first round 21.51m before going further with 21.69m.

A distant second was Poland’s Michal Haratyk with 20.96m while Croatia’s Stipe Zunic was two centimetres further back in third.

Switzerland’s Lea Sprunger sped around two laps of the track at the Centro Deportivo Municipal de Gallur in a European-leading 51.61, just outside her personal best and 0.2 away from the venerable Swiss indoor record which has stood for 27 years to Anita Protti. Behind her, Anita Horvat was towed to a Slovenian record of 52.22.

Mariya Lasitskene’s winning streak was extended to her 34th competition as she cleared 2.00m on her second attempt before having three failures at what would have been a Russian record of 2.07m.

She dominated an otherwise modest competition in which no other jumper went higher than 1.85m.

The competition was preceded by a tribute to one of the all-time Spanish greats of the sport, the now-retired 2016 Olympic high jump champion and three-time European champion Ruth Beitia.

Another Russian female jumper to triumph in Madrid was Viktoria Prokopenko, who came out on top of an entertaining triple jump competition.

Prokopenko reached 14.13m in the first round but was topped on the basis of second-best jumps when Lithuania’s 2015 European U23 champion Dovile Dzindaletaite bounded out to a national record at the same distance in the following round.

Succeeding Dzindaletaite as European U23 champion was Elena Panturoiu and the Romania also followed her as the event leader when she jumper 14.21m in the third round before Prokopenko went out to her winning distance of 14.31m in the fourth round, which proved to be unapproachable by anybody with their remaining two efforts.

Poland’s Adam Kszczot produced a tactically astute 800m win in 1:46.53.

Portugal’s seemingly ageless reigning European indoor triple champion Nelson Evora leapt what was briefly a world-leading 17:30m, only three centimetres away from his 10-year-old national record, in the second round only to see the inspired Brazilian Almir dos Santos go further with 17.35m one round later.

Evora finished the competition with four fouls as he chased do Santos and his own Portuguese record.