Spanovic lands at 6.79m in long jump qualifying

Ivana Spanovic
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Serbia's Ivana Spanovic went out to 6.79m to lead the qualifying round of the long jump at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships

Ivana Spanovic is one of 20 defending gold medallists at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships – and nobody could forget how she won the title for a second time two years ago.

The home star of Belgrade, Spanovic soared to glory in the long jump with 7.24m - the longest jump recorded indoors since 1989 - and then would not leave the sand, lying flat on her back for the photograph of the weekend.

This morning at the Emirates Arena, it was a little more subdued but the Serbian had no trouble reaching tomorrow's final in the opening round of qualifying and this time there is a place in history at stake.

With a distance of 6.65m needed to ensure progression, Spanovic landed at 6.79m with a fluent jump, bouncing out of the pit and ready to become only the second athlete to win this crown three times in a row.

"I wanted to qualify with my first attempt and I did that easily," said Spanovic. "I can't wait for the final because I can go further."

If she triumphs again, she will join Germany's Heike Drechsler who won consecutively in 1986, 1987 and 1988 and then again in 1994. When Spanovic took the title in Prague in 2015, it was her first major gold medal and she not has looked back since.

Among the eight qualifiers for the final, Ukraine's Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk was second with 6.78m while European outdoor champion Malaika Mihambo also enjoyed an easy passage, qualifying with 6.74m on her first attempt.

Having successfully defended her European outdoor pole vault title in Berlin last summer, Greece's Ekaterini Stefanidi is now looking to do the same indoors.

In qualifying, she did not enter the competition until the bar reached 4.60m, almost two hours into the event, and she jogged away from the mat and back down the runway looking in confident shape for gold again after an easy clearance. Anzhelika Sidorova topped the qualifying list, having began a height earlier at 4.50m.

But breaking personal bests this winter with 4.81m had different outcomes for Greece's Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou, who went through at 4.60m. Sweden's Angelica Bengtsson, fresh from a national record at the All Star Perche in Clermont-Ferrand last weekend, went out at 4.50m.

Reigning champions Kilty and Philip ease through 60m heats

All the main protagonists went through from the first round of the men's and women's 60m ahead of tonight's semifinals and final.

The quickest from the men's heats was Greece's Konstadinos Zikos who had one of the toughest draws against Great Britain's Richard Kilty, the defending champion chasing a third successive title.

Zikos won in 6.66 from Kilty in 6.68. The Briton was given an invitation to the championships by European Athletics after not running the qualifying standard following a winter hit by injury and he said: "I have nothing to prove, I just want to put on a good show. It would be incredible to win a third title here in Glasgow."

As in Belgrade, Kilty and Asha Philip will be looking to make it a British sprint double this evening, particularly being on home soil.

Philip had no trouble easing into the semifinals from the first heat. This will be one of the closest races of the championships such has been the form of joint European leaders Ewa Swoboda from Poland and Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji who have run 7.08 in 2019, let alone the presence of the Netherlands' sprint superstar Dafne Schippers.

Next on those lists is Philip with 7.12 and she won easily this morning with 7.23 and the next heat saw the mission Swoboda is on to win this title as she soared home in an eye-catching 7.14.

Switzerland's Kambundji did not have it all her own way from the outside lane but she still qualified automatically for the semifinal in 7.31 as France's Carolle Zahi won in 7.29 and Israel's Diana Vaisman broke the national record of 7.34 which she set just a fortnight ago with 7.33 to go through too. Mathilde Kramer equalled Denmark's national record in fourth with 7.34 and qualified as one of the fastest finishers.

Schippers, the 2015 champion, did not make the slickest of starts but came through well to win her heat in 7.24.

Britain's Rachel Miller, who has returned to the sport after a long break and was second in the trials behind Philip, won her heat in 7.24 while Belarusian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya won in 7.27 - the same time as Switzerland's Ajla Del Ponte in second.

Pozzi returns to form with 7.62 season's best in 60m hurdles heats

Defending champion Andrew Pozzi has battled back from injury and he has a great chance of retaining his 60m hurdles title and he ran a season's best of 7.62 to reach the semifinals in a tough heat against Spain's Olympic 110m hurdles silver medallist Orlando Ortega, the quickest man in Europe this year, who won in 7.61.

France's 2015 European indoor champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who lost out on the dip to Pozzi in Belgrade two years ago, also progressed safely with 7.64.

In the women's 60m hurdles, Germany's defending champion Cindy Roleder guaranteed her place in tomorrow’s semifinals by winning in 8.04.

In the next heat, France’s Solene Ndama - fresh from her bronze medal winning performance in the pentathlon last night - went faster with 8.03 but the fastest time of the day came from Nadine Visser from the Netherlands.

Running in the last of four heats, the world indoor bronze medallist was the only athlete to break the eight second-barrier with 7.99.