Controlled Storl storms into final as sprinters impress
David Storl will defend his shot put title later today after qualifying for the final with consumate ease in the Letzigrund Stadium this morning where the much-heralded super-thick track yielded super-fast times for sprint rivals Myriam Soumaré and Dafne Schippers.
The 2014 European Athletics Championships were barely 10 minutes old when Storl plopped his first effort out to 20.76m, going well beyond the automatic mark of 20.10 and avoiding previous qualifying scares despite the early start.
“It wasn’t 21 metres but I had to get up at half past five,” said the German world champion afterwards. “The first warm-up throw was great today and I didn’t have a problem qualifying, unlike past championships. I have everything under control and tonight everything is possible.”
Storl is clearly in good shape for the final as only Ulf Timmermann has ever qualified with a bigger throw, and that was back in 1986.
Borja Vivas of Spain was the best of the rest with 20.53 while Poland’s Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski will also contest the medals after going through with 20.50.
But Aleksandr Lesnoy of Russia, Europe’s second best thrower this year, was lucky to get through in 12th place after what he described as a “very bad” night. “My legs were like wood,” he said after throwing only 19.88.
After yesterday’s rain, Zurich was blessed with warm sunshine for the opening session and Soumaré took full advantage of the fine sprinting conditions. The French champion left nothing to chance by winning her 100m heat in 11.03, equal to her European lead despite a slight headwind.
If today’s round is anything to go by fans are in for a real treat in tomorrow evening’s final for Schippers was a comfortable winner of her race in 11.10, just a shave outside her Dutch record despite a poor start, and Bulgaria’s defending champion Ivet Lalova clocked 11.17 to go through third fastest.
Germany’s 2010 champion Verena Sailer is also through to Wednesday’s semis in 11.25, while it was all smiles for Mujinga Kambundji as the Swiss champion delighted the small but vocal crowd with a national record of 11.32.
There could be fireworks in the women’s 1500m final too, for the week’s big clash is still on for Friday evening after favourites Abeba Aregawi and Sifan Hassan both showed their class in winning their respective semifinals.
Aregawi, Sweden’s world champion, eased to the front of the field in the last lap of the first heat and strode home ahead of Serbia’s Amela Terzic in 4:11.64.
Hassan took control of her race with 600m to go and the European under-23 and Dutch record holder pulled away to win easily in 4:09.55.
There was more fine French sprinting in the 100m hurdles where event favourite Cindy Billaud looked silky smooth as she blasted home in 12.75 only to be bettered by her closest rival Tiffany Porter.
The Briton was just outside her season’s best with 12.69, while German champion Nadine Hildebrand was also in fine form with 12.79.
Russians proved to be the fastest one-lap runners of the morning, Maksim Dyldin topping the flat heats with 45.45, while Denis Kuryavstev was the best man over the barriers.
Martyn Rooney also looked good in the 400m, easing home in 45.48, while fellow Briton, Matthew Hudson-Smith, the quickest man in the field, was another controlled qualifier in 46.07.
Kuryavstev, Russia’s under-23 record holder, clocked 49.05 to reach tomorrow’s one-lap hurdles semifinals. Estonia’s European leader Rasus Mägi also went through in 49.72.
But the biggest cheers were reserved for local hero Kariem Hussein who had time to ease back on the throttle and lap up the applause as he floated home in 49.70. The Swiss champion clearly has more to give.
As has Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad. The European leader from France wasted little energy in qualifying for Thursday’s 3000m steeplechase champion final where he’ll defend his title against the continent’s number two Krystian Zalewski.
The Pole won the first semi, but the hopes of Helsinki bronze medallist Victor Garcia came to a crashing end when the Spaniard landed full-length on the track coming off the last barrier and had to be stretchered away.
Only three women went beyond 60 metres in the women’s javelin and Barbora Spotakova wasn’t one of them.
The Czech Olympic champion had a small panic with her spikes and a slight ache in her back, but still make it into Thursday’s final with 59.99 on her first attempt. Slovenia’s Martina Ratej topped the quallifiers with 61.87.
All the main contenders made it safely to the women’s pole vault final, while European leader Lyukman Adams was the best of the triple jumpers, the Russian leaping 16.97 to secure his place in Thursday’s final.
A shot PB of 15.39 put Arthur Abele into top spot in the decathlon after three events. He has 2644 points, 18 ahead of fellow German Kai Kazmirek with Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov third.