Jan Volko maintained his progression in brilliant style on a busy weekend of national championships across Europe when he ran his way into the record books again, a week shy of a year since he won his first gold medal.
Twelve months ago this Sunday, Volko stormed to 200m glory at the European U23 Championships in Bydgoszcz in 20.33 as he showed his potential as one of the best young sprinters in Europe. Volko went even faster at the Slovak Championships on Sunday with a superb 20.24 in Trnava, the joint-fifth best time by a European in 2018 to complete a fine sprint double after winning the 100m in a wind-aided 10.14.
It has been a great summer for Volko, who lowered his national 100m time from 10.15 to 10.13 at the end of last month and will now head to the European Championships in Berlin in August brimming with confidence.
In March he finished sixth in the 60m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham and while Turkey’s world champion Ramil Guliyev will be the favourite – he has already run 19.90 this summer – a place on the podium will not be beyond Volko's capacity.
Simon Bujna's 20.67 for second in the 200m was a personal best and also takes him to Berlin. It was the same outcome in the men’s 100m on the first day of the championships on Saturday as Volko won in 10.14 from Bujna in 10.37.
There was a sprint double, too, for Alexandra Bezekova, who won the 100m on Saturday in 11.44 and the 200m on Sunday in 23.28.
Lavillenie and Guillon-Romarin make headlines in Albi
Albi in the south of the country was the setting for the French Championships which saw a pole vaulter make the headlines – and on this occasion it was not their superstar gold medallist Renaud Lavillenie topping the bill.
The honours went to Ninon Guillon-Romarin on Saturday as she broke the national record of 4.73m to send her to Berlin knowing she can battle for a podium place.
Lavillenie, who is looking for his fourth European crown and first outdoor title in any major event since Zurich 2014, won the men’s event on Sunday by clearing 5.80m at the first attempt to triumph from Axel Chapelle with 5.50m.
France will be sending a strong team, as always, to the European Championships with Pierre Ambroise-Bosse aiming to add this 800m crown to his world title from last summer. He is the French champion after finishing a close second in 1:46.66 behind Kenyan Sammy Kirongo, who won the event in 1:46.21.
Pascal Martinot-Lagarde won the 110m hurdles in 13.33, Floria Guei produced a season’s best of 51.52 to take the 400m and Carolle Zahi completed an excellent sprint double: 11.01 in the 100m and 22.92 in the 200m. Zahi moves to equal second on the 2018 European lists alongside Dafne Schippers but behind Dina Asher-Smith's 10.92.
Orlann Ombissa improved enormously during the championships to finish second behind Zahi. She lowered her PB from 11.24 to 11.14 in the heat before 11.13 in the semifinal and then 11.06 in the final.
Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, the defending European champion, ran 8:33.59 to win the 3000m steeplechase as 2014 European gold medallist Yoann Kowal was fourth in 8:35.71.
Thiam approaches long jump PB in Brussels
Nafi Thiam is eyeing a hat-trick of heptathlon gold medals and at the Belgian Championships in Brussels on Sunday, she was so close to matching her best ever performance in the long jump. The European crown beckons for Thiam who won with 6.60m, just two centimetres away from her personal best from Gotzis in May.
The Borlee brothers had a good weekend, with Kevin winning his sixth Belgian 400m title as three athletes went below the European standard of 46.70 in the final. He won in 45.52 from brother Dylan, who broke his personal best in second in 45.55, with Robin Vanderbemden third in 46.09.
Jonathan Borlee ensured the success kept flowing as he won in 20.78 while European discus silver medallist Philip Milanov won that event with 63.39m and took the shot put with 17.29m.
Moreira and Henriques victorious at the Portuguese Championships
Sara Moreira wrote her way into European Championships history in 2016 when she won the inaugural half marathon title in Amsterdam and Berlin could see her back on the track.
At the Portuguese Championships in Leiria at the weekend, Moreira was first in the 5000m in 15:54.12 – and event which brought her European silver in 2010 and bronze in 2012.
Diogo Ferreira won the pole vault with 5.45m as Carlos Nascimento, 10.26, and Lorene Bazolo, in 11.51, won the 100m races.
Ines Henriques, who was sensational last summer in winning the 50km walk at the World Championships in London, was victorious here in the 10,000m track walk in 43:19.3 ahead of Ana Cabecinha in 43:51.8.
On Saturday in Sofia, Denis Dimitrov, in 10.36, and Inna Eftimova, in 11.51, won the 100m crowns at the Bulgarian Championships and in Krusevac, Asmir Kolasinac took the Serbian shot put title with 19.92m while the triple jump was won in 13.36 by Biljana Topic – at the age of 40.
And on Sunday in Bursa, Can Ozupek leapt 16.77m for a national U23 record in the men's triple jump on the second day of the Turkish Championships.