Czechs gain promotion with the title in Heraklion

Louis Tsatoumas won maximum points in the long jump from Greece with a season’s best of 7.77m. (Photo by Vasillis Koutroumanos)
European Athletics

The Greek team displayed a fantastic team performance to take second place earning promotion to the Super League. (Photo by Vasillis Koutroumanos)

The Czechs put in most of the hard graft on the first day but the overnight leaders extended their advantage at the top of the leaderboard to gain promotion back to the Super League ahead of hosts Greece and the Netherlands.

While there weren’t as many standout performances from a Czech perspective on the second day, they also had very few weak events. For the second day in succession, the Czechs won a full complement of points from the hammer although Tereza Kralova left it late in the first event of the day.

The only athlete in the field with a lifetime best in excess of 70 metres, Kralova snatched victory from Bianca Lazar from Romania with her final round throw of 64.52m to win by four centimetres.

Their lead was cut down to single digits for a while but the leaders reasserted their dominance with three wins at the end of the programme. After Oldriska Maresova won the high jump with 1.88m, the Czechs rounded off a terrific weekend by winning both 4x400m relays.

World 400m hurdles champion Zuzana Hejnova anchored the women to victory in 3:32.37 while Pavel Maslak did the same in the men’s event in 3:04:52.

Midway through the afternoon, the momentum was very much with the hosts who made some marked inroads in the Czechs’ lead on the second day. While the Greeks couldn’t quite manage to overhaul the long-time leaders, they consolidated their second-place position to gain promotion back to the Super League. Their most notable performer was Likourgos-Stefanos Tsakonas, who claimed a sprint double on home-soil. 

While he wasn’t widely fancied to win the 100m against runners of the calibre of sub-10 performer Churandy Martina from the Netherlands, the Greek was the outstanding favourite over 200m. The fastest athlete in Europe this year with a 20.09 PB duly claimed his second win of the weekend in 20.44.

On the far side of the stadium, world indoor champion Konstadinos Filippidis also secured maximum points with a 5.80m season’s best clearance to win the pole vault while another stalwart of the Greek team in Konstadinos Douvalidis won the 110m hurdles with 13.58.

The standout performer of the weekend was Dafne Schippers from the Netherlands, who claimed victory in three events over the course of two days. After winning in the 100m and the 4x100m relay on the first day, Schippers dominated the 200m with a championships record of 22.45. 

After a dismal start to the weekend, the Netherlands climbed up to third to secure promotion back to the Super League. From one of the shortest events on the track to the longest, youngster Jip Vastenburg also won the 5000m in 15:36.32.

Belgium finished fourth thanks to another solid day which included wins for Anne Zagre in the 100m hurdles and Philip Milanov in the discus while the Portuguese team dropped from third to fifth despite a win from 2008 Olympic champion Nelson Evora in the triple jump with 16.34m.

The Turks had an excellent day on the track in particular with a brace of victories. After running the first 800m at close to world record pace en route to his 1500m win yesterday, Ilham Tanui Ozbilen’s conservative approach paid dividends in the 800m which he won in 1:47.97 ahead of Ireland’s Mark English, while Halil Akkas and Tarek Langat Akdag - a sub-8:10 performer at best - won the 3000m flat and steeplechase respectively. On the in-field, Karin Melis May won the long jump with 6.53m while European junior champion Emel Dereli won the shot with 17.47m.