Spanovic completes European indoor long jump hat-trick

Ivana Spanovic
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Serbia's Ivana Spanovic won her third successive long jump title at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships, equalling the world lead of 6.99m

A long jump of 6.99m, equalling the longest in the world this year, enabled Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic to equal Heike Drechsler’s 1988 feat of earning three successive titles in this discipline at the European Athletics Indoor Championships.

Glasgow 2019 witnessed a landmark achievement too from another Serbian-born athlete, Milan Trajkovic, who became the first Cypriot athlete to win a gold medal in championship history, clocking 7.60 in the men’s 60m hurdles to deny France’s European outdoor champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde - who registered 7.61 - a continental double.

Drechsler ended up with four European indoor - and outdoor - long jump titles in all – and no sensible observer would bet against the Spanovic matching that feat too.

The 28-year-old Serbian, who had to watch last year’s European final in Berlin after rupturing her Achilles tendon in qualifying, had arrived here as defending champion following her home win in Belgrade two years ago with an extraordinary 7.24m.

Her effort of 6.92m upon returning to the Serbian capital on 20 February indicated she was back in top shape, and she had qualified with a single effort of 6.79m.

Spanovic’s early lead of 6.90m in the final was immediately eclipsed by Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova from Belarus, with a personal best of 6.93m that kept her in gold medal position until the fifth round.

In round five, however, it all came together for the Serbian, and although Mironchyk-Ivanova produced two good looking efforts in response, both were ruled as fouls.

The battle for bronze was similarly dramatic as Germany’s European champion Malaika Mihambo’s fifth round effort of 6.83m was bettered – just – by Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk with 6.84m.

“Gold was my goal,” said Spanovic. “I came here for first position and I wasn’t going to leave happy any other way. I knew I could make seven metres easily, but I made a lot of mistakes. I kept waiting and waiting, but in the end I didn’t need it.”

Confirmation of his 60m hurdles win appeared to take Trajkovic, whose family moved to Cyprus from Serbia when he was nine years old, by surprise as he sat with his back to the advertising boards before leaping to his feet and careering over to his followers.

Bronze went to Martinot-Lagarde’s compatriot Aurel Manga in 7.63, with Great Britain’s defending champion Andrew Pozzi putting up a resolute defence of his title after an injury ridden build-up, finishing sixth in 7.68.

Lasitskene and Sidorova regain European indoor titles

Mariya Lasitskene duly added the European indoor high jump title – which she last won in 2015 – to the outdoor version from Berlin last summer after seeing off the lingering challenge of Ukraine’s Yuliya Levchenko, the bronze medallist in 2017.

Lasitskene registered just one failure – requiring two efforts to clear 2.01m - a height that proved beyond the woman who also took silver to her gold at the last World Championships in London. Levchenko finished with a best of 1.99m, ahead of Lithuania’s reigning champion Airine Palsyte, who claimed bronze with 1.97m.

Anzhelika Sidorova followed suit in the pole vault by clearing 4.85m to win her second European indoor title ahead of Great Britain's 2013 champion Holly Bradshaw with 4.75m. Greece took bronze – but not through Ekaterini Stefanidi.

The world, Olympic, European and defending champion only cleared her opening height of 4.65 at the third attempt and couldn’t go any higher although her compatriot Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou made the rostrum by clearing the same height with fewer failures.

Oskan-Clarke powers to victory in the 800m

Two years ago Great Britain’s Shelayna Oskan-Clarke was beaten to the European indoor gold by Switzerland’s Selina Buchel on a photo-finish, by 0.01. Two years on the 29-year-old claimed that gold with an utterly determined display of front-running, coming home in 2:02.58.

France’s double European silver medallist Renelle Lamote, who had tracked the winner without being able to shift her, took silver in 2:03.00 ahead of Ukraine’s European bronze medallist Olha Lyakhova, who clocked 2:03.24.

In the men’s 800m final, Spain’s Alvaro De Arriba added European indoor gold to the bronze he had won two years earlier after a bold move to the front just before the bell, maintaining his position under strong pressure before finishing in 1:46.83.

Brit Jamie Webb took silver in a personal best of 1:47.13, with bronze – in 1:47.39 - going to Mark English, the Irish runner who had been reinstated to the final after being brought down during the semifinal.

Nadine Visser from the Netherlands added European indoor gold in Glasgow to the world indoor bronze she earned in Birmingham last year as she took the 60m hurdles title in 7.87 – the fastest time by a European sprint hurdler this season.

Silver went to Germany’s defending champion Cindy Roleder, who clocked 7.97 to finish ahead of European outdoor champion Elvira Herman from Belarus, who recorded 8.00.

Lane three was empty – Luca Kozak had set a Hungarian record of 7.97 in winning her semifinal - but injured her left leg in the process of bouncing back off the pads at the top of the slope past the finish.