Levchenko maintains good early season form with 1.96m clearance

Yuliya Levchenko
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Ukraine's world high jump silver medallist Yuliya Levchenko maintained her good early season form with a 1.96m clearance in Kyiv

In a year in which she will challenge for the world high jump title in Doha, Ukraine’s Yuliya Levchenko is making a good start this winter with a series of consistent clearances. 

Having gone over at 1.98m in Minsk in mid-December in the best event of this indoor season – world champion Mariya Lasitskene won with 2.00m before attempting 2.07m – Levchenko backed up that season’s opener with a 1.96m clearance in Kyiv on Saturday (12).

Levchenko won silver in London two years ago behind Lasitskene and the pair could also go head-to-head next month at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships from 1-3 March. 

Former world and European champion Olha Saladukha was also in good early season form, reaching out to 14.07m in the triple jump. 

In Orleans, France, Axel Chapelle took the honours in front of his home crowd at the Perche Elite Tour meeting on Saturday.

Countback proved crucial where 5.71m was the winning mark. Chapelle won ahead of teammate Alioune Sene and Sweden's Melker Svard Jakobsson who also cleared 5.71m. Greece’s former world indoor champion Kostas Filippidis was fourth with 5.65m.

Sweden’s Michaela Meijer won the women’s event with 4.50m from France’s world U20 bronze medallist Alice Moindrot who went over at 4.30m.

At the Merzig Pole Vault Meeting on Saturday, German youngster Bo Kanda Lita Baehre took another big stride in his progression, defeating an excellent field in his second competition of 2019.

The European U20 silver medallist came into the competition with an indoor personal best of 5.60m but he took that to 5.65m for an overall lifetime best – his outdoor best is  5.61m – as he beat teammate Torben Blech and Poland's 2016 European champion Robert Sobera who both cleared 5.41m. 

Poland’s reigning European indoor champion Piotr Lisek cleared 5.31m but former world champion Raphael Holzdeppe no-heighted at 5.41m. 

Klosterhalfen impresses on her racing debut in the United States

The silver medallist behind Laura Muir over 1500m at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade two years ago, Konstanze Klosterhalfen was in good early season shape on Saturday at the UW Preview meeting in Seattle, Washington. 

Running on an oversized 307m track, Klosterhalfen won the 1000m in 2:43.07 and then 20 minutes later, ran 4:29.06 for the mile. Not only was she competing at those distance for the first time, Klosterhalfen was also racing in the United States for the first time.

Now based in Portland, Oregon Klosterhalfen was pleased with her first showing of the indoor season which culminates at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow.

“I was very happy to be here in the US for the first time, it was a tough double, but it was fun. It was a good training and a good preparation for upcoming races and the next race is scheduled in two weeks in Boston,” she told Leichtathletik.de.

Another athlete with aspirations of performing well in Glasgow is Chris O’Hare and the perennial major 1500m finalist put up a good showing on the boards in the United States, clocking 3:57.97 in the mile in Fayetteville, Arkansas. 

Kramer breaks long-standing Danish record, fast opener for Okparaebo

Even at this early stage of the indoor season, Europe’s athletes are delivering to the highest of standards – and for Denmark’s Mathilde Kramer, the highest ever.

Competing in Lund, Sweden, on Saturday, Kramer, 25, broke the national indoor 60m record which has stood for over 30 years with 7.36, lowering the time of 7.40 which Lene Demsitz has run both in January and February 1988. 

That is some base for Kramer to have ahead of Glasgow and it comes a year after she broke the national indoor 60m hurdles mark with 8.38. 

The 60m entry standard for Glasgow is 7.42 and in her first race of the season, Norway’s Ezinne Okparaebo showed she is eyeing up another European indoor medal – eight years after her last in this event. 

Competing in Bielefeld, Germany on Saturday, Okparaebo ran 7.27 and after winning silver in Turin in 2009 and bronze in Paris in 2011, she has begun her latest pursuit in fine style. 

Across the country in Mannheim, Malaika Mihambo, who celebrated such home glory with gold in the long jump at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships, won the 60m in 7.46 on Sunday. 

Fellow long jump specialist Khaddi Sagnia from Sweden was also in good early season in a different event, clocking 8.17 in the 60m hurdles - inside the qualifying time for Glasgow - in Gothenburg on Sunday.

Robertson clocks 6.68 in Sheffield

At the Northern Senior Championships in Sheffield, Andrew Robertson, the 2011 European U23 100m bronze medallist, produced a fine 60m of 6.68 as he builds towards the SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships where he will be looking to make the British team for Glasgow.

A mark of 6.78 is the entry standard for Glasgow and Czech 100m record-holder Zdenek Stromsik opened his season with 6.69 at a regional event in Ostrava. He ran 6.76 at the same meeting a year ago. 

In Zurich, Silvan Wicki clocked 6.70 to beat Swiss teammate Ricky Petrucciani, who ran a personal best of 6.77, to put themselves in the minds of the selectors while Sweden’s national U20 100m record-holder Henrik Larsson ran 6.71 in Orebro. In Vienna, Austria’s Markus Fuchs hit 6.75.

In Udine, there was an Italian U18 record for Federico Guglielmi as he ran 6.78. There was also an Italian U18 record in the 60m hurdles for Lorenzo Simonelli who improved his mark to 7.75 over the youth barrier.