What the athletes had to say at the European Athletics Indoor Championships

Gianmarco Tamberi at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships
European Athletics

Gianmarco Tamberi at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships

The athletes spoke for themselves with their performances at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships but, afterwards, many spoke for themselves in words.

Here are some of the quotes that told the tale of the 35th edition of this event.

Happiest man at the championships?

Two-and-a-half years after he last stood on a European podium, as the 2016 outdoor champion, Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi proved he was back to the heights after his traumatic ankle injury as he won his first European indoor title with a leap of 2.32m, equalling his own European best for the season.

“It´s something amazing. It's something I was expecting for too long. I want to tell everyone what happened over the past two years and how serious my injury was. Yes, Gimbo (his nickname) is back and only I and a couple of people know what it means.

“I wanted it so much. I told myself 'Don´t give up. Don't ruin this moment because it´s your moment.' I knew I could come back one day. Now I want to enjoy this moment.”

Nice.

Running from the heart

After winning women’s triple jump silver for with an indoor personal best of 14.50m, Greece’s Paraskevi Papahristou reflected:

“I have an injury on my left hamstring. I wasn't sure I could compete here. I knew I couldn't make many jumps. I wanted to put it all out there on the first one, and it worked. It just shows, making it onto the podium is not just a matter of training, it's a matter of heart.

Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski, who outsprinted Norway’s teenage star Jakob Ingebrigtsen to earn gold at 1500m, has much the same approach.

“To win, that was my goal. I have achieved my plan in 100 per cent. At the beginning I was a bit closed. I was running just after Gomez. Everyone was after Gomez, but I wanted to prove I can make it before him. And then the fight was between the two of us (Lewandowski and Ingebrigtsen). Every result I have achieved is thanks to my heart. I always rely on my heart.”

And the Midas touch is infectious…

After Poland’s victory in the final event of the championships, the women’s 4x400m relay, third leg runner Malgorzata Holub-Kowalikal commented: We said to Marcin today, 'Marcin, if you win gold, we will win it.’ The emotions were really high after yesterday. I had tears in my eyes, but it was a well-deserved final and European championships.”

Kilts

Mr Tamberi, both in qualifying and his final, sported an impromptu kilt as he wrapped a red tartan blanket complete with a sporran design around his waist – and at one point over his head.

Norway’s world and European 400m hurdles champion Karsten Warlholm departed from Glasgow with another gold medal and a share in the 400m indoor record, until Saturday owned outright by Thomas Schoenlebe since 1988 with 45.05. And having thoroughly enjoyed sporting full Scottish regalia, including a proper, pukka kilt, in the wake of his victory.

“I am not Scottish, I am from Norway,” he clarified as he sported the sporran. “But my family were here a thousand years ago!”

On the subject of kilts, and drinking, Germany’s shot put silver medallist David Storl was asked, interestingly, if he would ever wear a kilt. “I don´t think I ever need to wear a kilt no, no,” he replied. “But I do love drinking Scottish whisky.”

Football girl

Spain’s 15-year-old – yes, she’s just 15 – 400m runner Salma Celeste Paralluelo finshed sixth and last in her heat. But watch out for her.

“If it's not today, the day will come. All this is incredible and to be here is just a dream. In March I will go and play football at the European under 18 Championships in Sweden. But I will keep training for athletics.” 

Kangaroo girl

Paralluelo’s Spanish compatriot Ana Peleteiro, who won the women’s triple jump with a leading European mark of 14.73m, is known as the “Kangaroo Girl”. Why?

My family gave me this nickname in 2012. I like kangaroos and I jump like them.”

Fair enough. And point proven.

Those twin imposters

For some, fortune tipped up; for others, down.

Milan Trajkovic of Cyprus won the men’s 60m hurdles title by 0.01 from the 2018 European outdoor champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France. But it came as a shock to him.

“I hit two barriers very, very hard when I was running, and I took a tiny look to my right while finishing and there were just too many bodies around, so I lay on the ground annoyed at myself. And then I saw my name on the board and thought ‘Oh, cool!´”

Germany’s Christina Schwanitz saw her apparently golden throw of 19.11m turn silver as Bulgaria’s Radoslava Mavrodieva won the women’s shot put with 19.12m.

“Losing by one centimetre is very cruel, I know this. Today it was very hard. I tried but I couldn't do better. I had too much power and less technique. I really didn't want this.”

The Ingebrigtsens – a championship within a championship

Things happened to the Ingebrigtsen brothers too. Middle brother and former European outdoor 1500m champion Filip was disqualified after appearing to win his 1500m heat for stepping onto the infield after attempting to move through on the inside. Eldest brother Henrik dramatically dived for the line in the 3000m as Scotland’s Chris O’Hare beat him to the silver medal by 0.003.

And their younger sibling, 18-year-old Jakob, the double European outdoor champion in Berlin, won the first part of his “double double” over 3000m, but fell short in the 1500m.

Flilip Ingebrgtsen was not happy after his DQ: “There´s always touching in these races, so I don´t understand. I was running like I always do. I felt good. I´m angry and confused.”

His younger brother backed him up: “I saw my brother´s race and there was nothing wrong with it. I believe from now on that there are some new tactics allowed in running that if you push someone over the rail, you win because everyone will get disqualified. It's too bad but I the people who made the decision will see what a huge mistake they are making. It is probably the stupidest thing that will happen all weekend.”

Having announced boldly beforehand that he had not come to Glasgow to finish second or third, he said after the 1500m final: “I will take silver. It is an honour to be here amongst these great athletes.”

Henrik, meanwhile, explained how he had literally jumped for silver in the 3000m:

“I knew Chris was coming in the end and saw it on the big screen and I just thought I´m going to go for it. I just dived and I think I gained two hundredths doing that. I watched a lot of the TV show MacGyver growing up so I just did the MacGyver jump.”

He added, mischievously: “I think I deserve to own half of Jakob´s medals. So in my mind, I won one bronze and half a gold medal. I felt we controlled the race from start to finish. The most important thing is that we won today, Team Norway won today.”

You can’t please all the people

France’s men’s 4x400m bronze medallist Mame Ibra Anne commented, in an Arena built right alongside Celtic FC’s fabled Parkhead ground: “We are very happy and proud of our performance. But I´m very sad Celtic FC played away from home when we were here. Next time we come here you must promise us that there will be a home match.”

… And the last word goes to Laura Muir

For the local heroine who successfully defended the 1500 and 3000m titles she had won two years earlier in Belgrade, Glasgow 2019 will always provoke warm and grateful memories.

After her opening 3000m win, she commented: “To get this result in this Arena, when all is said and done, will be one of the highlights of my career, if not the best moment

“As soon as I walked out, I felt like ´yeah, this is home´. I have run on this track hundreds, if not thousands of times, so I just felt as if I could do what I normally do here, and that was enough to win.

“To win with a championships record, and to do it here, is a dream.

“Now I will try and recover before the 1500m final -- lots of ice baths, massage and rest – but I´ve got about 40 hours, so I know should be fine.

“My Mum, my Gran and all the aunties, uncles and family friends were here. It was hard to get them all tickets. My Gran is always there when I have not done so well, so this is the first time she has seen me win a medal.”

For the 1500m it was the same approach – and the same glorious result: “I feel amazing I did everything I can and I´m definitely going to sleep well tonight. I wouldn't have been happy with anything else except the gold. The crowd were crazy, and they really helped. I´m so relieved. This was a big test this weekend and a lot of pressure. I am so happy that I could deliver.

“We set out to do just one event a few months ago and then we thought why not go for the double? I never thought I´d have another chance to do that in Glasgow and to do it on my own track is special.”