Looking back on Gyor...and looking ahead to Rieti

Maria Vicente
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Spain's Maria Vicente won her second gold medal of the European Athletics U18 Championships in Gyor, Hungary in the triple jump with a championship record of 13.95m

One of the newest events on the continental calendar, the third edition of the European Athletics U18 Championships was supposed to begin in Rieti, Italy on Thursday (16).

And while the athletics season has resumed albeit on a largely domestic scale in Italy, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic prevented the event from going ahead as planned this year. The famous Raoul Guidobaldi track in Rieti will still play host to Europe’s leading U18 athletes but not until the end of next August.

In anticipation of next year’s European Athletics U18 Championships which are scheduled to begin on 26 August 2021, we look back on some of the outstanding performances from the last edition in Gyor, Hungary in 2018 and highlight some of the names to make a note of in the build-up to Rieti next summer.

Vicente breaks world U18 heptathlon best

Already the world U18 champion, Maria Vicente gave further notice of her immense all-round ability with arguably the most dominant performance in Gyor. The Spaniard won the heptathlon title by almost 600 points and five lifetime bests across the seven events helped her to set a world U18 best of 6221 points.

...and then wins the triple jump title

Vicente would have been highly competitive in the individual 100m hurdles and long jump but a timetable overlap didn’t allow Vicente to contest either of those disciplines. Instead she opted for an event which isn’t even part of the heptathlon programme: the triple jump.

After leading from the first event in the heptathlon, Vicente only secured the triple jump title with the last jump of the final. In a dramatic and captivating climax, Bulgaria’s Aleksandra Nacheva displaced Vicente with her final jump of 13.88m only for Vicente to immediately regain the lead and capture the title with another championship record of 13.95m. 

Mahuchikh breaks high jump championship record

Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh has already made an indelible impact at senior level as evidenced by her silver medal at the World Athletics Championships and her immaculate record in age-group championships clearly served as a useful apprenticeship.

Only 16 at the time, Mahuchikh won gold in Gyor by eleven centimetres, eventually clearing a lifetime best and championship record of 1.94m - a height which would have won the world U20 title in Tampere which took place the following week.

Kokhan smashes world U18 hammer best

Mahuchikh’s compatriot Myhaylo Kokhan has impressed similarly at U18, U20 and senior level. After Vicente’s world U18 best in the heptathlon, Kokhan followed suit by setting a world best of 87.82m. All five of his valid throws in the final were in excess of the championship record of 82.42m which Kokhan had set in qualifying.

Burgin’s gun-to-tape 800m triumph

Great Britain won six gold medals in Gyor with Max Burgin’s 800m triumph arguably the most impressive of the lot. Burgin had produced some super-fast times ahead of the championships and the 16-year-old reproduced this form in Gyor with an unmatchable gun-to-tape display in 1:47.36.

Who to watch for in 2021?

More names will undoubtedly come to the fore over the course of the next few months and especially next season but the men’s high jump is already shaping up to be one of the highlights in Rieti next August.

Sandro Tomassini is only 16 but the Slovenian has already cleared 2.21m in his first season in the U18 ranks. This would have been good enough for the gold medal at both the 2016 and 2018 European U18 Championships as well as many editions of the now-discontinued World U18 Championships.

There is always keen interest in the progress of athletes hailing from famous sporting families and one of Tomassini’s principal rivals in the high jump could be Melwin Lycke Holm, the son of 2004 Olympic champion Stefan Holm, who cleared 2.13m indoors and is improving all the time.

Also watch out for 16-year-old Elvira Tanderud from Sweden who has already clocked 11.52 for 100m and 23.62 for the 200m. 

Serbia’s Adriana Vilagos has already compiled a lot of experience and success at age-group level and she is eligible to compete in Rieti next August, a 2 January 2004 birthdate making her one of the oldest athletes likely to take part. 

Vilagos holds the world U18 best with the 500g javelin with a mark of 68.76m and she still has one full season left in the U18 ranks to further improve this mark.