Behrenbruch on course in decathlon; solid hammer performance from Krisztian Pars

Behrenbruch Pascal-LJ
Pascal Behrenbruch of Germany is in the pole
position to take the men's decathlon title with two
more events to go on Thursday.
Pascal Behrenbruch put himself into pole position to win the decathlon ahead of the two final events of the day as he produced a personal best vault of 5.00m to take over the lead which Oleksiy Kasyanov had held overnight, finishing the morning session on 6989 points to the Ukrainian's 6970.

The penultimate event – the javelin – will offer the German the opportunity of opening up that lead over a rival whose best is more than 15m inferior. And it may also provide Roman Sebrle, the 37-year-old former world record holder, the opportunity to reach the podium in what must surely be his last European Championships.

The 37-year-old Czech produced a season's best pole vault of 4.90m to enter the final session in fourth place, with the javelin – one of his strongest events – to come.

But Ilya Shkurenyov of Russia did his best to secure third place as he won the pole vault with 5.20m, taking his total to 6789, with Sebrle 116 points behind on 6673.

Behrenbruch had produced a season's best of 14.16sec in the 110m hurdles and a personal best of 48.24m in the discus to reduce the 61 points lead at the end of the first day to 42, before surpassing himself once again in the pole vault, where Kasyanov retired after clearing 4.80m.

The women's pole vault presented an awkward problem for the judges as they were left with 14 apparent qualifiers to a final only scheduled to involve 12 athletes.

Eleven vaulters had cleared 4.40m. But three were equal 12th on 4.35m - double world silver medallist Monica Pyrek of Poland and Stella-Iro Ledaki of Greece, both of whom had failed three times at 4.40m, and Jirina Ptacnikova of the Czech Republic, who had gambled on passing at 4.40 after a single first time clearance of 4.35m.

The difficulty was resolved by moving the competition on to 4.45m, which meant Pyrek and Ledaki were left with an anxious wait to see if they dropped out – which they did, following a first-time clearance by Ptacnikova which settled the issue for the judges. The other jumpers – not really needing to clear the height – either passed or repeatedly walked through to raise the red flag.

Anastasiya Savchenko of Russia, Silke Spiegelburg of Germany and Nikolia Kirikopoulou of Greece all qualified safely despite "failing" three times at 4.45. Other qualifiers included Vanessa Boslak of France, Martina Strutz of Germany.

Marta Dominguez, Spain's 2009 world 3000m steeplechase champion and the second fastest this year in the field here, was an early casualty in the first semi-final, pulling out on the bottom bend out with six laps remaining.

Svitlana Shmidt of the Ukraine took full advantage to win in 9min 36.77sec, with the other three automatic qualifying places for tomorrow's final going to Polina Jelizarova of Latvia, Diana Martin of Spain and Natalya Gorchakova of Russia.

Gulcan Mingir of Turkey, whose personal best of 9:13.53 this year made her the fastest in the field, won the second semi-final in 9:32.39, followed home by the German pair of Antje Moldner-Schmidt (9:33.47) and Gesa-Felicitas Krause (9:35.86), with Lyubov Kharlamova of Russia fourth in 9:39.53.

Sviatlana Kudzelich of Belarus was disqualified for running out of lane – the same reason which had seen 11 runners disqualified on the previous day.

Among the seven fastest loser qualifiers were three athletes who ran personal bests – Clarisse Cruz of Portugal (9:40.30), Silvia Danekova of Bulgaria (9:42.72), and Sanaa Koubaa of Germany, who ran 9:43.08 despite tipping up into a heavy fall over one of the hurdles.

Irina Davydova was the fastest qualifier for tomorrow's 400m hurdles final as she won the second semi-final in 54.68, and a season's best of 54.92 ensured her fellow Russian Yelena Churakova would join her.
But the Russians will beware the Czech Republic, who will have three of the eight finalists in Denisa Rosolova, who clocked 54.71, Zuzana Hejnova, who followed Davydova home in 55.36, and Zuzana Bergrova, whose personal best of 55.36 earned her a fastest loser spot along with Ireland's Jessie Barr, who also ran a personal best of 55.93.

Germany dominated the qualifying competition for tomorrow's women's shot put final, filling three of the top four places. Nadine Kleinert produced the best effort of the day with 18.65 to finish four centimetres clear of Russia's Irina Tarasova, with her team-mates Josephine Terlecki and Christina Schwanitz third and fourth with 18.22 and 17.92 respectively.

Fabrizio Donato of Italy, fourth in the World Indoors earlier this year, is looking good in the triple jump, where he finished top qualifier with 17.17m, followed by Poland's Karol Hoffman, who produced a personal best of 17.09, and Aliaksei Tsapik of Belarus, who recorded 16.95 to finish four centimetres ahead of another potential medallist, Sheryf El-Sheryf of the Ukraine.

But there was disappointment for Daniele Greco, top-ranked of the field this year thanks to his effort of 17.47m earlier this month. The Italian, who also failed to qualify for the finals in Barcelona two years ago, went out with only a first jump of 15.90 to his credit. Britain's former Commonwealth champion Larry Achike also failed to progress with 16.25.

Emir Bekric, who won the first 400m hurdles semi-final in a Serbian record of 49.37sec, was the fastest qualifier for today's final, which will involve two Britons – Nathan Woodward and Rhys Williams – effectively involved in a race-off for the third Olympic place.

Williams finished strongly to win his semi-final in 49.63, ahead of Adrien Clemenceau of France, who clocked a season's best of 49.80. But Woodward, despite seeing Bekric, Georg Fleischhauer of Germany and Rasmus Magi – setting an Estonian record of 49.54 - come past him in the final straight, did enough to qualify with a time of 49.68.

Stanislav Melnikov of the Ukraine overhauled Periklis Iakovakis in the final straight to win the second semi-final in 49.72, with the Greek clocking 49.83.

Krisztian Pars is on course to win his first major gold after qualifying for Saturday's hammer final with a third attempt of 78.09m following an opening effort of 77.16m. The Hungarian, who took bronze at the 2010 Europeans in Barcelona and added world silver last year, finished more than three metres clear of his
nearest rival in the first qualifying group – home thrower Olli-Pekka Karjalainen, who reached 74.54. 

Closest qualifier to Pars was Nicola Vizzoni of Italy, who produced a season’s best of 76.42 to head the second qualifying group, closely followed by Oleksiy Sokyrskyy of the Ukraine, with 75.35, Markus Esser of Germany with 74.04 and Valery Sviatokha of Belarus with 73.01. An effort of 73.74 at his final attempt earned Poland’s 35-year-old Szymon Ziolkowski, the Olympic champion of 2000 and world champion of 2001, a place in the final.