Swoboda powers to 7.08 world lead in Karlsruhe

Ewa Swoboda
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Poland's Ewa Swoboda returned to her best with a 7.08 world lead in Karlsruhe

A month away from the defining weekend of the winter athletics season, Poland’s Ewa Swoboda showed in Karlsruhe on Saturday night she is ready to challenge for the greatest success of her young career. 

Swoboda, 21, first ran a world lead of 7.08 for the 60m heats at the IAAF World Indoor Tour and then won the final in 7.10. 

The European Athletics Indoor Championships take place in Glasgow between March 1-3 and on the evidence of these two races in Germany, the gold could be Swoboda’s to lose. 

A week earlier defending European indoor champion Asha Philip clocked 7.12 in Dortmund to top the world lists but Swoboda made an even more powerful impact in front of a 5000 crowd.

Breaking brilliantly from the blocks, there was no catching Swoboda’s 7.10 from Dafne Schippers in 7.19 and Germany’s Rebekka Haase in 7.23. 

In 2017, Swoboda won bronze in Belgrade as a teenager behind Philip in a year where then took European U23 100m gold at home in Bydgoszcz - a title which she is eligible to defend in Gavle this July - and she is ready for more glory in Glasgow.

“I am very happy and relieved with my great time,” said Swoboda. “The pressure has been high, so it is a really big thing for me to achieve this result in such a field.” 

Courtney races to a world leading 3000m mark

Glasgow will be some occasion for Laura Muir, the reigning European indoor 1500m and 3000m champion and if she opts for the 3000m, her biggest rival could be donning the same red, white and blue of Britain after a stunning display in Karlsruhe by Melissa Courtney. 

The Commonwealth 1500m bronze medallist ran arguably the best race of her life as she beat a world class 3000m in not only a world lead of 8:43.36 - also a Welsh indoor record.

It had been almost 18 years since Hayley Tullett’s mark of 8:45.36 entered the record books but Courtney went soaring past that – as she did the leaders on last turn.

Courtney, 25, had been behind Ethiopian pair of Alemaz Samuel and Gudaf Tsegay before unleashing prolific finish - 29.43 for the last 200m - to put herself into Glasgow contention as she took more than 10 seconds off of her previous best time. 

Timing can be everything in the build-up to a championship and Sweden’s Andreas Kramer unleashed his 800m season in outstanding  style, breaking his personal best and setting a European leading-time with victory in 1:46.52 to install himself as favourite for gold in Glasgow with Adam Kszczot absent. 

“Last week I competed in a 400m to ‘warm up’ and we have just started with specific 800m training. So, the result is really good at this point of time,” said Kramer, who will attempt to break the Swedish record at home in Stockholm on Monday night.

There was more success for Sweden in the men’s long jump as they took first and third respectively. 

Victory was achieved on countback by Thobias Nilsson Montler as prodigious Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria recorded the same distance followed by Michel Torneus with 7.91m. 

Maslak returns to winning form

There has been no greater indoor track athlete over the past decade than Czech Republic’s Pavel Maslak and now his seventh successive gold medal is on the Glasgow horizon. 

Second to Karsten Warholm in Ulsteinvik last month in 47.10, Maslak won this time in 46.78 from Spain’s Oscar Husillos in 47.12 and Poland’s Karol Zalewski in 47.17 to show that his form at the two-lap distance is bubbling up just in time for Glasgow where he will be chasing a fourth successive European crown. 

Nadine Visser has every good reason to feel pleased with her night’s work in the 60m hurdles.

The Dutch heptathlete-turned-sprint hurdler ran two fine times and in winning the final, she beat Germany’s Cindy Roleder, the defending European indoor champion. 

Visser, who won world 60m hurdles bronze in Birmingham last March, took her heat in 8.04 before running 7.97 for a narrow victory in the final from Roleder in 7.98 and Poland’s Karolina Koleczek in 8.05.

Spain’s Ana Peleteiro showed her good form ahead of Glasgow as she won the triple with 14.51m, beating two-time world indoor champion Yulimar Rojas who was second with 14.45m with Portugal’s Patricia Mamona third with 14.36m. 

It was Rojas’s first competition since winning that title again in Birmingham last March but Peleteiro’s third round jump was too much for the rest of the field.

Having successfully defended one European pole vault title six months ago, Greece’s Ekaterini Stefanidi will be looking to make it another in Glasgow and in Karlsruhe, she had to share top billing.

With a height of 4.71m, there was a rare three-way tie between Stefanidi, Canada’s Alysha Newman and Authorised Neutral Athlete Anzhelika Sidorova.