The leading names in Polish athletics honoured the memory of Irena Szewinska in the best possible way in Bydgoszcz on Wednesday (12) night – by producing a series of brilliant performances at the memorial meeting named in her honour.
Szewinska, the three-time Olympic and seven-time European champion indoors and outdoors, died last June and the stars of today underlined the strength of the country’s track and field competitors.
The rivalry between their European hammer champion Wojciech Nowicki and world champion Pavel Fajdek was always going to be one of the main events of the European Athletics Classic Permit Meeting and so it proved with the quality was of the highest standard.
After the first round, Great Britain’s Nick Miller looked like he might spoil the home party when he led with 76.69m from Fajdek with 75.95m but all that changed when Nowicki reached 79.03m in round two and then in the third round, he took that even further to 80.26m – the best throw in the world this year, eclipsing Fajdek’s world lead.
Suddenly it was a two-man competition as Fajdek delivered a 80.09m also in the third round which also exceeded his pre-competition world leading mark of 80.03m set in Forbach, France last month.
Fajdek fouled out the rest of his series while Nowicki produced his second 80m-plus effort in the fifth round with 80.07m before concluding his series with 79.26m. Miller consolidated his third-place finish with 78.39m from round four with European U23 champion Bence Halasz from Hungary fourth with 78.27m.
Haratyk approaches 22-metre form in the shot put
Poland’s European shot put champion Michal Haratyk is having another brilliant year and he showed that with a superb series in Bydgoszcz.
The reigning European champion both indoors and outdoors, Haratyk’s first five efforts were all over 21 metres and all would have been sufficient for a handsome victory, his best mark coming in the third round with 21.90m.
It brought him victory by almost one metre from Nigeria’s Chukwuebuka Enekwechi (20.98m) and fellow Poles Jakub Szyszkowski (20.39m) and Konrad Bukowiecki - who has the European lead of 21.97m - but this time had a best of 20.37m.
Michal Haratyk put together a fantastic series in the shot put at the Irena Szewinska Memorial in Bydgoszcz tonight with five throws in excess of 21.40m:
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) June 12, 2019
The Polish success carried on in the 800m as Adam Kszczot, who completed an 800m European hat-trick in Berlin last summer, had enough power in the home straight to win in 1:45.14 from South Africa's Tshepo Tshite (1:45.78) and Poland’s Mateusz Borkowski (1:46.03) with teammate Marcin Lewandowski fifth in 1:46.62.
At the European Indoor Championships in March, Ewa Swoboda followed in Szewinska’s footsteps by winning the 60m title - the first Pole to win the European indoor sprint title since Szewinska in Belgrade 1969. On her individual outdoor debut in the 100m, Swoboda finished second in 11.35 as American Morolake Akinosun triumphed in 11.27.
There was also a runner-up finish for another of Poland’s European champions from Berlin in the 400m. Justyna Swiety-Ersetic set a European-leading time of 51.30 was she was caught by the fast-finishing Aminata Seyni from Niger who won in 51.11.
Poland had another win in the 110m hurdles with Damian Czykier finishing ahead of Italy’s Lorenzo Perini - 13.75 to 13.76 - and there was an Italian victory in the 100m hurdles as Luminosa Bogliolo beat Poland’s Klaudia Siciarz - 13.07 to 13.37.
The day before, Poland’s European indoor champion Pawel Wojciechowski won the pole vault which was staged away from the stadium and alongside the river. Wojciechowski, who was born in Bydgoszcz, produced his best form of his year to win in 5.81m before three attempts at 6.01m.
Brazil’s Augusto Dutra was second on countback at 5.71m ahead of world silver medallist and fellow Pole Piotr Lisek.
Stefanidi clears 4.66m for victory in Chania
Ekaterini Stefanidi was the big draw at the Filothei Women Gala in Chania, a European Athletics Outdoor Special Premium Meeting, and the reigning world, European and Olympic champion didn’t disappoint in her first appearance on Greek soil in 2019.
There was a Greek one-two in the pole vault as fellow European finalist Eleni Klaudia-Polak cleared 4.30m before three attempts at a prospective outdoor lifetime best of 4.50m.
The stage was then left to Stefanidi who entered the competition at 4.56m which she cleared on her first attempt. Stefanidi duly went higher with a second time clearance at 4.66m but on a breezy evening in the suburbs of Athens, Stefanidi found 4.73m just beyond her reach.
Stefanidi’s work wasn’t quite done yet as she then embarked on a marathon autograph signing session and posed for selfies with fans who had turned out in large numbers to watch their heroine in action.
"Another wonderful afternoon at the Filothei Women Gala," said Stefanidi on Instagram. "I am very pleased to to have been able to attend and compete at the 20th anniversary of this beautiful event celebrating twenty years of women's athletes."
There was another Greek win for Tatiana Gousin who cleared 1.88m in the high jump to defeat the very experienced Ukrainian Oksana Okuneva on countback while Great Britain’s Abigail Irozuru went out to 6.53m to defeat European silver medallist Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk by five centimetres.