Lisek hits the heights on home track in Bydgoszcz

Piotr Lisek
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Poland’s Piotr Lisek emphasised that he will be among the men to watch in the pole vault at this summer’s Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships when he improved his outdoor best for the year to 5.85m at the European Athletics Festival meeting on his home track in Bydgoszcz on Tuesday.

In the opening European Athletics Outdoor Classic Permit Meeting, at the venue which staged the European Athletics U23 Championships last July, the 2017 European indoor champion cleared his winning height on his second attempt before failing three times at what would have a world-leading 5.96m

His compatriot and 2011 world champion Pawel Wojciechowski was second with 5.75m.

Lisek, 25, has been a prolific competitor so far this year with nine indoor meetings and six outdoor as he tunes up for Berlin – it is only 10 weeks until Berlin co-hosts with Glasgow the historic first multi-sports European Championships in August – following the recent acquisition of new poles.

After medals at the last two world championships outdoors, he is now looking the climb the podium on the continental stage after sixth and fourth place at the 2014 and 2016 European Athletics Championships.

Tuesday was a good night for the women’s pole vault too, as Belarus’ Iryna Zhuk beat Poland’s Justyna Smietanka on countback, the latter equalling her personal best, as they both cleared 4.45m.. 

Polish athletes were in full flow in Bydgoszcz, with meeting records in both 400m A races.

Karol Zalewski won the men’s event in a personal best of 45.71 and Justyna Swiety-Ersetic won the women’s in 51.56.

Sofia Ennaoui, better known as a 1500m exponent, found 2:02.44 brought her victory in the 800m.

Klaudia Siciarz was first in the 100m hurdles in a personal best of 13.15.

Hungary’s Balazs Baji is among the favourites for 110m hurdles gold in Berlin and he won here in 13.51 from Poland’s Damian Czykier in 13.60.

Last summer was sensational for Baji as he won a world championships bronze medal in London to go with his European silver from Amsterdam in 2016.

His fellow Hungarian, shot putter Anita Marton, also won bronze in London before then topping the podium at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018, so it will be of great encouragement to Belarusian Aliona Dubitskaya and Poland’s Paulina Guba on their roads to Berlin that they both finished ahead of her on Tuesday.

Dubitskaya won with 19.02m, just one centimetres away from her 2014 personal best, with Guba second with 18.64m while Marton had to settle for third with 18.36m. 

Great Britain won both the 100m A races with the honours going to Harry Aikinees-Aryetey in 10.31 and his compatriot Daryll Neita with a run of 11.38. Czech Republic’s in-form Nikol Ogrodnikova broke the meeting record with a javelin best of 61.73m.

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At the 56th Riga Cup, Sindija Buksa had a night in the Latvian capital she will long remember.

Buksa’s 100m run of 11.29 improved a national record that had stood since 1987 – 10 years before the sprinter was born and when her country was still part of the Soviet Union – by 0.05 and her personal best by 0.28.

For good measure, the 20-year-old then won the 200m in a national U23 record of 23.02.

Latvia also had home wins in both javelins with 2014 worldU20 champion Gatis Cakss taking the men’s event with a personal best of 83.89m, and improvement of over three metres, while 2009 European U23 gold medallist Madara Palameika the women’s honours with 62.98m.

Other significant wins by European athletes came from Great Britain’s Jack Green, who won won the 400m hurdles in 50.36, Slovakia’s Tomas Veszelka topped the triple pump with 16.62m while Mesud Pezer, of Bosnia and Herzegovina, triumphed in the shot put with 20.18m.