Sintnicolaas goes for gold again

Sintnicolaas goes for gold again
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Eelco Sintnicolaas after winning the 2013 European Athletics Indoor Championships heptathlon title

Eelco Sintnicolaas will bid to retain his heptathlon crown at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague next week.

Sintnicolaas is one of 16 athletes named so far by the Netherlands, two years on from his glory in Gothenburg 2013.

The 27-year-old triumphed then by 75 points with a national record of 6372 as he beat Kevin Mayer, of France.

The multi-events will bring big interest for the Dutch as Sintnicolaas is joined in the team by Nadine Broersen, the pentathlon world indoor champion from Sopot last March.

Ironically, at one time Dafne Schippers might have been earmarked for this event but she has become such a force in the sprints that she is the favourite for the 60m while Sifan Hassan will chase double glory, in the 1500m and 3000m.

Poland will have one of the biggest teams in the Czech Republic with 45 athletes named, led by high jumper Kamila Licwinko who is looking for gold for the second winter running after sharing the title with Russia’s Mariya Kuchina in Sopot.

Both women cleared 2.00m then, but Licwinko leads this year’s world rankings with 2.02m.

She is joined in the team by Ewa Swoboda, who broke the European Junior 60m record at the weekend, while Adam Kszczot will be bidding for a hat-trick of 800m crowns.

He won gold in Paris in 1:47.87 and then retained the title in Gothenburg in 1:48.69 before last summer taking outdoor European gold in Zurich. His record speaks for itself.

Slovakia have named their biggest ever team with 27 athletes heading to Prague and they include nearly all their national champions, with among them Dana Veldakova, who won triple jump bronze in 2009 and 2011.

Andreas Vojta will run for Austria in the 3000m and pole vaulter Nicole Buchler is in the Swiss team alongside Mujinga Kambundji who is expected to content for medals in the 60m an 200m after her strong showing in Zurich last summer.