Big men and the little women will provide the highlights of the first day of the 2014 European Athletics Championships when the first Zurich medals are due to be awarded in the men’s shot put and women’s 10,000m.
Both events feature defending champions seeking to make a little piece of championships history – Portugal’s Ana Dulce Felix by becoming the first woman to win either long distance event twice; and Germany’s David Storl by beating the long-standing championships record set by Switzerland’s own legendary shot putter Werner Günthör.
Felix will face a strong challenge from British duo Jo Pavey and Julia Bleasdale, plus Belgium’s Almensch Belete, while Storl’s biggest rivals are likely to be the giant Pole, Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski, and Russia’s Aleksandr Lesnoy.
Opening day qualifiers in the Letzigrund Stadium include the 100m heats giving Zurich fans their first glimpse of the fastest men and women on the continent, Frenchman Jimmy Vicault and Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers the principal names to look out for.
Cindy Billaud of France and Britain’s Tiffany Porter are expected to shine in the women’s sprint hurdles with both first round and semifinals on day one, and there’ll be a first chance to assess the form of fierce 1500m rivals world champion Abeba Aregawi of Sweden and world leader Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.
Germany’s triple world champion and Olympic gold medallist Robert Harting is in action in the men’s discus qualifiers, one of five field events due to get underway, while Tuesday also day one of the decathlon.
Other track action includes the men’s and women’s 400m heats, and the first rounds of the men’s 800m and women’s 3000m steeplechase.
One to watch: Jo Pavey in the women’s 10,000m, the 40-year-old British mother of two attempting to win her second major medal in 10 days after claiming Commonwealth Games silver in Glasgow.
Stat of the day: David Storl will be the fifth man to defend the shot put title in European championships history if he wins gold today.