Team Europe had to settle for second place at the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018, finishing with 233 points and 29 points behind a victorious Team Americas squad, but can still take pride in a number of sparkling performances headed by victories from Sergey Shubenkov, Mariya Lasitskene and Thomas Rohler.
Shubenkov defended his IAAF Continental Cup 110m hurdles crown from four years ago in Marrakech when he uncorked a 13.03 performance, a time nobody in the world has been able to match this year.
Against the clock he has been the dominant hurdler of the year and Shubenkov now has the seven fastest outings of 2018. The win - rewarded by a $30,000 first prize award - also partially made up for his defeat at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships by France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde.
Shubenkov’s start was, once again, not particularly impressive and he was one of the slowest in the field to react to the gun. The Russian, running as an Authorised Neutral Athlete, had a lot of work to do over the first half of the race to get level with Jamaica’s Ronald Levy in the lane to his outside but by the sixth hurdle Shubenkov had edged in front and was then never headed.
“It’s a very important victory, not only for me but for Team Europe. Honestly, I didn’t know before the race that we had a Captain’s Joker (on this race, which meant double point) but I was very happy to bring the hopes of the team to life and give a good start to the second day for my team mates,” reflected a delighted Shubenkov.
“It was also very important for me to beat my team mate Pascal Martinot-Lagarde after I lost to him at the Europeans. Here, I managed to improve a little bit technically and, certainly, 13.03 is a great result at the end of the season. My coach is always reminding me that it’s now time to break the European record. However, I will have to postpone that goal now until next year.”
Martinot-Lagarde was well beaten into third place in 13.31 on this occasion although he still got valuable points for Team Europe in the first track event of the day as the host continent tried to close a 12-point overnight deficit on the Americas.
Lasitskene always looked in control of the high jump competition and ultimately notched up her 25th win of 2018, a long year of competitions which started back in January.
She was flawless up to and including 1.95m but there were still three women jumping at 1.97m. However, Lasitskene went over with her third attempt, the only one of the remaining trio to do so, and then had the bar moved up to 2.00m which she cleaned straight away.
The two-time European champion brought her competition and season to a close with three failures at what would have been a world-leading mark of 2.05m.
“I am not often satisfied with my results, even when I win, but today I fulfilled everything. I’ve defended my Continental Cup title, which is something important to me, and I finished my season with two metres, which is not bad for September.
“I was also grateful for the crowd’s support because they supported me when I had failed my attempts at 1.97m. I knew 2.00m would be enough to win but I tried 2.05m because it’s important to get used to new feelings when the bar is high, although my attempts at 2.05m were not really very good,” commented Lasitskene.
Like with her compatriot Shubenkov in the 110m hurdles, it was also an event in which Team Captain Colin Jackson saw as a banker and decided to play the joker so double points also came Team Europe’s way.
Later in the afternoon it was Thomas Rohler’s turn to take maximum points.
Despite taking care to ensure he progressed through to the ‘knock out stages’ of the competition, the German javelin thrower still managed 86.39m in the third round and then went even further in the fifth round, in the head-to-head with Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Chao-Tsun, when he reached 87.07m.
There were also a series of outstanding second places across the afternoon.
That's it. Spikes off and flip flops on: time for off season! Close to victory today but satisfied with this last race Again a great crowd and atmosphere here in Ostrava and let’s collect some more points for Team Europe! #TeamEurope #IAAFostrava2018 pic.twitter.com/JS7xNpU1yM
— Dafne Schippers (@dafneschippers) September 9, 2018
Former European Athlete of the Year Dafne Schippers flew around the bend of the 200m and had the lead coming into the home straight but she was overhauled 10 metres from the line by Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the pair clocking 22.16 and 22.28 respectively, the Dutch sprinter’s second fastest time of the season in the longer sprint.
Renaud Lavillenie cleared 5.80m in the pole vault, the same height that was required for the Frenchman to win in Marrakech four years ago, but this time it was only good enough for second with USA’s Sam Kendricks the only man to go over 5.85m.
Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski and Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen finished second and third in a slow and tactical 1500m – reversing the finishing positions in Berlin where Ingebrigtsen was a memorable winner – won after a massed sprint down the home straight by Kenya’s Elijah Manangoi while Germany’s Berlin 2018 javelin champion Christin Hussong threw 62.96in the third round of her event but lost out in the final head-to-head to China’s Lyu Huihui.