Halasz leaves it late to win the hammer in Sandnes

Bence Halasz
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Hungary's Bence Halasz won the hammer at the European Athletics Team Championships First League with a third round throw of 75.63m

Hungary’s Bence Halasz earned the first maximum award of 11 points here at Sandnes Stadium as he beat home athlete Eivind Henriksen to the men’s hammer at the European Athletics Team Championships First League.

And Portugal’s Irina Rodrigues won the second final on the first of three days of competition in Norway as she produced a best of 58.16m in the women’s discus.

Despite forecasts of rain this weekend, the competition opened on a warm, close evening with temperatures comfortably in 20C-plus territory. Soon, however, the wind was busying all the national flags on the top bend of this scenic arena, with views opening through surrounding pines of pine-topped hills beyond. Seagulls, meanwhile, glided in and out of view. 

So it was an evening of headwinds for the sprinters and sprint hurdlers who opened the track programme in front of a small but appreciative crowd enlivened by parties of schoolchildren dutifully waving flags of all 11 competing nations.

After the opening two events, Hungary and Portugal are joint top with 17 points, ahead of Belarus and Turkey on 16. Hosts Norway are fifth with 14 points. Belgium are currently eleventh with three points but with some excellent prospects to come on the track.

On the track, Norway’s visually-impaired para-sprint world record-holder Salum Kashafali did just enough to qualify for tomorrow’s 100m final despite slowing early after mistaking the curved, broken line that marks the gathering point for 10,000m runners for the finish line.

“I wanted to execute my race better,” said the 25-year-old refugee from the Congo, who has set successive T12 world records of 10.58 and 10.46 after being classified as a para-athlete earlier this year because of a degenerative eye disease.

“I dipped too soon because I made a mistake with the line. I’m really disappointed with myself.”

Despite his stuttering finish which cost him significantly, Kashafali’s time of 10.81 into a 1.3 m/s was sufficient to claim the eighth and last qualifying place. Hensley Paulina of the Netherlands (10.51) and Turkey’s Emre Barnes (10.60) qualified fastest. 

With five athletes within two metres of each other in terms of personal bests the men’s hammer was set to be one of the most competitive of the weekend – and so it proved. 

Halasz and Rodrigues prevail in the throwing events

Only the four leading throwers went through to the fourth and final round – and Halasz left things late. The 22-year-old European bronze medallist only reached the top four with his third effort of 75.63m which proved the winning mark.

Henriksen, who had progressed with his opening best of 73.77m, secured second place with a final effort of 74.55m, just seven centimetres behind the Hungarian’s final effort. Hleb Dudarau of Belarus was third with 73.50m, and Turkey’s Ozcan Baltaci fourth with 73.00m.

Rodrigues, whose personal best of 63.96m was the best in the field, duly dominated the discus, taking a first round lead with 58.14m and extending it to 58.16m in the third round.

Corinne Nugter of the Netherlands claimed second place with 57.10m, and the others to make the fourth round were Lithuania’s Ieva Zarankaite, who had a best of 55.08m, and Turkey’s Ozlem Becerek, who reached 53.90m, a national U20 record. 

European indoor champion Nadine Visser of the Netherlands was fastest qualifier in what promises to be one of the most competitive track events - the 100m hurdles - clocking 13.20, taking advantage of a headwind that had dropped for a while to 0.4 m/s

The earlier heat which was run into a 1.0 m/s headwind was won by Elvira Herman of Belarus, fastest in the field with a best of 12.64. She won in 13.39, with home hurdler Isabelle Pedersen, a third potential winner, second in the same time. 

Belgium’s 19-year-old IAAF world U20 champion Jonathan Sacoor was an impressive winner of the opening men’s 400m heat, finishing almost a second clear in 46.57 which proved to be the swiftest time of the day with Norway's Karsten Warholm a late withdrawal due to illness.

The Netherlands provided the top qualifiers in the men’s 200m, with Christopher Garia clocking 20.95sec, while the women’s 200m qualifying was headed by Krystsina Tsimanouskaya of Belarus, who ran 23.58.

Lisanne De Witte, the Dutch European indoor and outdoor 400m bronze medallist, topped qualifying with 52.19.

Full results here