Javelin thrower Leandro Ramos will look to celebrate his 19th birthday in style at the ECCC Track & Field U20 on Saturday (21) which stages both Groups A and B.
At the end of May, Ramos threw his way into Portuguese athletics history and at home tomorrow he will be aiming for another team medal when he competes for reigning team champions Sport Lisboa e Benfica.
This club event remains one of the most important on the calendar for the next generation of Europe’s athletes - many of whom have competed at the European Athletics U20 Championships in Boras earlier this season.
The men of Sport Lisboa e Benfica and the women of Fenerbahce are back to defend their Group A titles and for Ramos, another chance to make a big impression – and this time on his birthday.
Last year in Castellon, he won this competition with 66.81m and it proved a good venue for him because back in May he threw a superb mark of 77.52m at the senior equivalent at the ECCC Track & Field. That mark was a national senior record and showed what a brilliant future he has. Next stop will be to break the 80-metre mark.
His maximum points in 2018 helped Sporting to victory with 115 points from Denmark’s Sparta AM with 103 and Turkey’s Enka Istanbul with 94.
Sparta will return to team action while Turkey will be represented by Fenerbahce. Playas de Castellon will carry the Spanish flag, Blackheath & Bromley Harriers will compete for Great Britain with Italy’s Atletica Vicentina Club, Slovenia’s AD Mass Ljubljana and Switzerland’s COA Palais Romand also competing.
Atletica and COA are there after promotion from Group B last year and although Sporting will be determined to retain their crown, the men of Fenerbahce will pose a big threat.
Their squad includes Ilya Canakci, who has already had a superb summer by anchoring Turkey to gold in the 4x400m relay at the European U20 Championships. He will compete in both relays along with the individual 400m. Other standout names on Enka’s team include European U20 5000m silver medallist Ayetullah Aslanhan in the 3000m and world U20 leader Alperen Karahan in the shot put and reigning European U18 champion Batuhan Cakir in the triple jump.
Sparta will be banking on maximum points again from Tazana Kamanga-Dyrbak who was pivotal in his club's podium finish last year. He won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in Castellon last year and has entered all three events again this year.
The women of Fenerbahce will take some stopping as they look to lift the title for the sixth time in a row. It is quite a record and their strength in depth should be too much for the rest.
Fenerbahce face opposition from Czech Republic’s AK Olymp Brno, Sparta, Playas de Castellon, Blackheath along with the Netherlands’ PAC Rotterdam, Slovenia’s AD Kladivar and Switzerland’s LG Unterwalden.
A year ago when Fenerbahce won the title by 31.5 points, Mizgin Ay was one of the most valuable members of the team with victory in the 200m (23.81) and 400m (54.80) as well as anchor the team to victory in the 4x400m relay (3:49.63). Ay, the world U18 champion, will be busy again on Saturday, having entered the 200m and both relays.
Turkey look strong throughout most events, with shot putter Pinar Akyol - who has a personal best of 16.26m - and Ozlem Becerek - with a discus best of 57.50m - among those women who are bankers for maximum points. Both of them won medals at the European U20 Championships as well.
In Group B, the men’s competition features Czech club AK Skoda Plzen whose team features twins Michal and Jakub Forejt who won silver and bronze respectively in the discus at the European U20 Championships. Michal is competing in the shot put while Jakub is entered for the discus and hammer.
And there will also be home representation in the Group B women’s competition with Sporting Clube de Portugal in action.