Enka retains men’s team title in Birmingham

Yasmani Copello
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Yasmani Copello won the 400m hurdles for Enka at the ECCC Track & Field Group A in Birmingham in 49.72

The men’s athletes from Turkey’s Enka carried on from where they left off in Mersin two years ago as they triumphed at the ECCC Track & Field Group A in Birmingham at the weekend.

Enka won the men’s division with 163.5 points but it was a closely contested competition. Their victory was only by a margin of 4.5 points from Portugal’s Sport Lisboa e Benfica with Spain’s Playas de Castellon third with 148.5 points.

But there was disappointment for the bottom four clubs – Belgium’s Royal Excelsior SC (79.5 points), Slovenia’s AD Mass Ljubljana (70), Ireland’s Clonliffe Harriers (66) and Slovakia’s AK Slavia Uk Bratislava (48) – who were all relegated.

Once more the top three showed their strength on the European club scene. The same trio filled the top three spots in 2016 but with Benfica and Castellon reversing their positions from then.

But the strength in the field of Lithuania's Cosma team shone through on Saturday led by Andrius Gudzius, who was one of the big stars of the weekend.

Back in Great Britain having won gold at the IAAF World Championships in London last summer, he was outstanding in the discus as he won with a championship record 67.82m from the fourth round having opened with 67.42m, breaking Wolfgang Schmidt’s record from 1989.

And he was supported in the field as Cosma also won the long jump with Elvjis Misans (7.65m), the high jump with Adrijus Glebauskas (2.22m) and the javelin with Edis Matusevicius (73.86m).

As always in these competitions, it is not just about winning individual events but about the amount of highest finishes which are achieved. Enka had a good balance of both.

The Turkish team won six disciplines although their top individual scorer was European 10,000m champion Polat Kemboi Arikan, second in the 5000m on Sunday in 13:51.10, as Castellon’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo won in 13:38.14, which proved decisive in the final scores.

But it proved to be a good weekend for Ndikumwenayo as he twice finished in front of Arikan. On Saturday, he was second in the 3000m in 7:58.88 won by Cosma’s Simas Bertasius in 7:57.75 with Benfica’s Rui Pinto in third in 8:02.98 and Arikan in fourth in 8:03.92.

In Berlin this summer, when the German capital co-hosts the first multi-sports European Championships with Glasgow, Turkey's Yasmani Copello will be looking to retain the 400m hurdles title he won in Amsterdam in 2016.

On Saturday, he showed the good form he is in as he won in 49.72. Copello already leads the 2018 European lists with 48.31.

Along with Copello, Enka also banked maximum points on Saturday with Emre Zafer Barnes first in the 100m (10.39) and Tarik Langat Akdag quickest in the 3000m steeplechase in 8:38.51. After those three wins on the Saturday, Enka achieved three more 24 hours later at the Alexander Stadium as Ilham Tanui Ozbilen won the 1500m in 3:41.63, Mesud Pezer took the shot put with 19.99m and Esref Apak triumphed in the hammer with 73.50m.

On his home track, Birchfield Harrier Leon Reid ran an excellent 200m to win the opening of the two races in 20.85, a big 10 points for his club with Enka’s Jak Ali Harvey first in the second race in 20.91.

Sunday also saw a superb performance in the triple jump from Benfica’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo who won by almost a metre with his best of 17.30m.

Match result

Enka (TUR) 163.5
Sport Lisboa E Benfica (POR) 159
Playas de Castellon (ESP) 148.5
Birchfield Harriers (GBR) 132
Cosma (LTU) 123.5
Sparta AM (DEN) 97
Royal Excelsior SC (BEL) 79.5
AD Mass Ljubljana (SLO) 70
Clonliffe Harriers (IRL) 66
AK Slavia Uk Bratislava (SVK) 48