Polish pole vaulter Piotr Lisek won his first gold medal and Hungarian shot putter Anita Marton made it two in a row on a superb afternoon of action at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade.
Men’s Pole Vault
Less than a week after the drama of an injury that could have put his European bid in a doubt, world No. 1 Piotr Lisek has a major gold medal.
There was always going to be a new name in the 'winners' section of this event after the decision by Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie not to compete, thus ending his bid to chase a fifth successive title.
The clock had to be turned back to Birmingham in 2007 and the name of Germany's Danny Ecker (5.71m) for the last athlete before Lavillenie – who is injured – to win this event.
Last weekend, Lisek, 24, gashed his hand and leg when his pole snapped in his final preparation for Belgrade but in the end that did not stop him adding gold to his three major bronze medals.
He had used that now-broken pole to set the world-leading mark of 6.00m in Potsdam last month but he was easily into his flow with his new device today to establish the series which brought him victory on countback with 5.85m from Greece's Konstadinos Filippidis, who broke the national record, and fellow Pole Pawel Wojciechowski.
When Lisek cleared the height of 6.00m in February, it was confirmation of his title challenge this year and after going over first time at 5.60m and 5.70m, he had his only failure up to 5.85m when he knocked the bar over at 5.75m.
He opted out of the second attempt before clearing 5.80m on his first go, the decisive moment as Filippidis had had a similar record but went over that height at the second time of asking.
Wojciechowski had passed on 5.75m and 5.80m and then cleared 5.85m on his third attempt to be one of only three men left in the competition.
And he was the last to go at 5.90m but Lisek did not have to worry as his teammate could not achieve it and a new champion was born.
Lisek was sitting on the bench watching as he was crowned the gold medallist, with German's 2013 world champion Raphael Holzdeppe, who finished fifth on 5.80m, being the first to go over and put his arm around him and spark the congratulations.
“I feel great,” said Lisek, who thanked the crowd for their support as he was interviewed seconds later.
It is a brilliant achievement from an excellent final, which also saw a potential successor to Lavillenie as Frenchman Axel Chapelle, 21, broke his personal best to finish sixth with 5.80m.
But there was disappointment for Germany's Florian Gaul, who broke his pole during the warm up, the device splitting dramatically in three as he sustained a cut to his left leg which forced him out of the final.
Women’s Shot Put
Back in Prague, Anita Marton could not have left it later to become the European Athletics indoor champion, producing a last-round national record of 19.23m for gold. No such needless stress this time, though she still sprinkled her final effort with stardust.
Here at the Kombank Arena, Marton successfully defended her title as all three medals were decided in the third round, before the Hungarian gave the crowd something extra to cheer about on her last go.
A delighted Marton finished with a brilliant 19.28m, but the gold was decided in that round three when she reached 19.24m, the first of her two world leads of the afternoon (the mark had been 19.10m by American Raven Saunders).
In Prague, Yuilya Leantsiuk, of Belarus, had led with 18.60m before Marton's last-gasp heroics and then last year the Hungarian took her national indoor record to 19.33m when she won silver at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland.
Perhaps thinking of 2015, Marton took the lead from the first round today with 18.67m and she was never threatened. The next round saw her reach 18.96m before the punishing 19.24m.
Gold was rubber stamped with 19.28m as she won ahead Bulgaria's Radoslava Mavrodieva, with a third round personal best of 18.36m, and Leantisuk, who took bronze with 18.32m, also from that midway point, which was memorable, too, for Sweden's Fanny Roos who equalled the national record mark of 18.13m which brought her fourth.
Marton was attempting a national record in her last go, and while she was five centimetres short, her smile showed how elated she was.
“I am very happy. I wanted to throw a new national record but maybe next time,” said Marton.