Ivet Lalova lit up an outstanding first day of the Second League of the European Athletics Team Championships in Stara Zagora by breaking the championship’s 100m record in front of her home crowd.
But while the Bulgarian had the individual performance of the session, it is Denmark who are top of the table having sealed six victories on Saturday.
The Danes have never been out of this division - they were promoted into it as 2010 Third League champions - but now have a brilliant chance of going up as they lead overnight with 117 points from Hungary with 114.5 and Bulgaria with 108.
There is no relegation, though, among these eight teams as the Second League is being increased to 12 from 2017, the next time the competition is staged, with four being promoted from the Third League which starts today in Baku.
Lalova is the 2012 European 100m champion and she has maintained her love affair with this team event having been the record holder of the competition in its old guise as the European Cup.
It was in 2004 in Plovdiv that she ran 10.77 for that 100m mark and now she has the quickest time again after winning here in 11.11 on a day that in Hereklion, European 100m champion Dafne Schippers, of the Netherlands, ran 11.12 in the First League.
Lalova, who competes in the 200m today, used her trademark power to beat Ramona Papaioannou, who was second in 11.36, and Andrea Ivancevic, of Croatia, who was third in 11.49.
Rivalling her for the best performance of the day was Serbia’s Amela Terzic, the European Under-23 1500m, as she produced a sensational run in the 800m.
Terzic won in 1:59.20, a national record and the best time across all the leagues, and in the process beat Icelandic star Anita Hinriksdottir who was almost four seconds adrift in second with 2:03.17.
Even though they did not lead after all of the 21 events of this first day, Denmark signalled their intentions by moving to the top of the table after the first event as Nicolai Hartling won the men's 400m hurdles in 50.16 from Hungary’s Tibor Koroknai in 51.06 and Croatia’s Yann Senjaric in 51.24.
It was a fine run from Hartling, with an impressive scalp back in fourth in 52.37 in Serbia’s Emir Bekric, the world bronze medallist.
Hartling set a fine standard for his Danish teammates to follow and Sara Petersen quickly followed suit by winning the next track event, the women’s 400m hurdles, in some style as her 55.13 was a national record as she beat Bulgaria’s Vania Stambolova in 58.56 and Iceland’s Arna Stefania Gudmundsdottir in 58.79.
As these early track races were taking place, the field events were being dominated by one of the biggest names in the Second League in Hungary’s Olympic and double European hammer champion Krisztian Pars.
His victory was never in doubt as he achieved eight points for his country with a winning throw of 77.27m from the third round. This means that Pars has won the hammer in all six editions of the European Athletics Team Championships.
With good supplementary finishes, Hungary found themselves top of the table but Denmark were always the strongest as they added another four victories.
Serbia’s push for promotion saw Asmir Kolasinac show once again why he is one of the best shot putters in Europe.
The 2013 European Athletics Indoor champion - who won silver in Prague in March - triumphed here with 20.75m as he beat Bulgaria’s Georgi Ivanov on 20.18m but the host nation had other victories in the women’s triple jump with Gabriela Petrova with a windy 14.85m, Denis Dimitrov in the 100m in 10.34, Mitko Tsenov in the 1500m in 3:46.31 and Silvia Danekova in the 3000m steeplechase in 9:43.34.
Cyprus’ 4x100m women’s relay composed of Olivia Fotopoulou, Papaioannou, Demetra Kyriakidou and Eleni Artymata broke the national record as they won in 44.75.
SECOND LEAGUE (after 21 of 40 events)
1. DENMARK - 117
2. HUNGARY - 114.5
3. BULGARIA - 108
4. SERBIA - 101.5
5. ICELAND - 88.5
6. CROATIA - 85
7. CYPRUS - 68
8. SLOVENIA - 65.5