On the final afternoon of the 33rd European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague on Sunday, the television cameras zoomed in on the women’s long jump.
It was quite a competition as Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic was heading towards her first senior gold and Germany’s Sosthene Taroum Moguenara was ecstatic with her silver.
By the start of the fifth round the top two places looked to have been decided: Spanovic with 6.98m and Moguenara with 6.83m as Romania’s Florentina Marincu took to the runway.
She clinched a European Athletics junior record of 6.70m with her second attempt but she was determined to go even further. What a terrific attitude from an athlete who is still only 18.
Her steely glance did not falter as she swung into action and went soaring towards the sand, launching herself even further into the record books and into bronze medal position with a leap of 6.79m.
Her performance helped underline a glorious future for the sport as she was one of four teenagers to break European Athletics junior records in Prague.
Along with Marincu, Konrad Bukowiecki achieved his twice, in shot put qualification with 20.46m, which he then matched in the final, Anita Hinriksdottir ran a history-making 2:01.56 in the 800m heats while Ewa Swoboda produced a landmark 60m time of 7.20 in the final.
Marincu might have been the only one of the quartet to win a medal but all four will now head into the summer, where in July both the European Athletics U23 Championships in Tallinn and the European Athletics Junior Championships in Eskilstuna take place.
It was Marincu’s second appearance at the European Athletics Indoor Championships after she placed 17th in Gothenburg 2013. Later that year she won gold in the long jump and triple jump at the World Youth Championships, an event in Donetsk where Iceland’s Hinriksdottir, now 19, won the 800m before a week later taking the same title at the European Athletics Junior Championships in Rieti.
In Prague, she showed so much confidence in the senior ranks, with her junior record coming in the first heat, as she ran from the front, the only way she knows, to finish second.
Third in the semi-final and fifth in the final, again with great courage to take the races on, will stand her in good stead for what lies ahead for an athlete who looks destined for senior medals.
Poland’s Bukowiecki is not 18 until next week and he followed up his gold at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene last summer with a brilliant championships where he finished sixth.
He is sure to be one of the stars of Eskilstuna, as well might be his teammate Swoboda who would have learned a great deal from the women’s 60m final, where seven of the eight finalists ran personal best times behind Dutch star Dafne Schippers who triumphed in 7.05.
Swoboda does not turn 18 until a week after the European Athletics Junior Championships and the odds of her having a medal as a birthday present must be very high.