Only six points separated the top three teams on the women’s side at the ECCC Track & Field Group A in Castelló, Spain twelve months ago and there is a strong likelihood this year’s title will only be decided by the conclusion of the 4x400m relay.
Sporting Clube de Portugal won by just two points last year from Enka - 166 to 164 points - with Valencia Esports finishing a close third with 160 points. The reigning champions will be vying for their third successive title but last year’s second and third placers will provide stern opposition across the programme again.
Istanbul-based Enka have won the last two editions of the ECCC Track & Field on the men’s side and another strong showing on the track will set the women’s team up nicely for a title challenge.
Ivet Lalova-Collio has started her season in sparkling form - she opened her campaign with a 22.55 clocking for 200m in Osaka - and the Bulgarian fully expected to clinch another sprint double for Enka this weekend.
Ivet Lalova-Collio’s incredible consistency over the years:
2004 22.51 for 200m (20yo)
2019 22.55 for 200m (35yo) pic.twitter.com/R6jOXyVqZ3
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) May 20, 2019
Her club-mate Malgorzata Holub-Kowalik also won the individual 400m last year albeit by a narrow margin ahead of Sporting Clube’s Catia Azevedo - 52.21 to 52.29. Both of them will return to club action and will be a significant factor in the 4x400m on the Sunday to close the programme.
The rivalry between Enka and Sporting Clube is expected to play out across the remainder of the track action. Veterans Sara Moreira and Jessica Augusto should accrue a healthy quota of points in the 3000m and 5000m respectively, although the former might struggle to arrest the challenge of Yasemin Can in the latter stages of the 3000m.
But one track event that could slip out of Enka’s grasp is the women’s 3000m steeplechase. Enka will be fielding former European U23 champion and last year’s winner Tugba Guvenc but she will come up against 17-year-old Fancy Cherono from Kenya who dominated the senior race at the ECCC Cross Country earlier this year for Sporting Clube.
Normal service should be resumed on the in-field for Enka with Emel Dereli and Kivilcim Salman both expected to win again in the shot put and hammer respectively. Meanwhile Sporting Clube can bank on former European champion Patricia Mamona in the triple jump and Fatime Diame for Valencia Esports is a good bet for maximum points in the long jump.
The Czechs will be represented in Castelló by USK Praha whose team includes Romana Malacova (pole vault) and Michaela Hruba (high jump) and Barbora Dvorakova (long jump) while Finland’s European indoor finalist Nooralotta Neziri should take maximum points for JKU in the 100m hurdles.
The other participating clubs are Sparta AM (Denmark), Thames Valley Harriers (Great Britain) and Atletica Studentesca CA.RI.RI (Italy).