Timofey Chalyy smashed the championships record to win the European junior 400m hurdles title in Rieti on Sunday afternoon, clocking 49.23, the quickest ever by a Russian junior.
It was one of four Russian victories from the 17 finals on day four of the 2013 European Athletics Junior Championships, but wins for Zak Seddon in the steeplechase, Hayley McLean in the one-lap hurdles, and by the women’s sprint relay quartet mean Britain finished top of the table with nine golds overall to Russia’s eight.
Russia also won gold in the women’s pole vault, plus decathlon and men’s 4x400m relay, while elsewhere there was an historic gold for Armenia’s Levon Aghasyan in the men’s triple jump and a last gasp victory for Sweden’s javelin star Sofi Flinck.
There was also a hugely impressive 800m win for Patrick Zwicker who helped Germany finish third in the table with four golds, and double relay glory for Poland.
Chalyy shines for Russia
While Zwicker was good, Chalyy’s was the stand out performance of the action-packed last session.
He finished behind Aleksandr Skorobogatko in yesterday’s semi-final when the taller Russian emerged as a more likely gold medallist, coming from behind in that race to overtake his teammate.
But Chalyy was clearly saving his energy, for he set off at a pelt in the final and never faltered. Far from tiring in the home straight, this time he moved further away to win by 0.8s.
Skorobogatko hung on for silver in 50.13 as Jacob Paul came through to bag bronze for Britain in 50.71, shaving three hundredths from his PB.
That was Britain’s second 400m hurdles medal within 15 minutes following McLean’s victory in the women’s final. She produced a stylish piece of pacing to win in 57.26 ahead of Joan Medjid of France while Stina Troest broke the Danish record with 57.41 to take bronze.
Seddon’s victory was equally assured. He strode away from his big rival Viktor Bakharev over the last lap to secure a slick victory in 8:45.91, leaving the Russian with a hard-earned silver in 8:47.81.
The pair had run together, clear of the field throughout the race but the Briton crossed the line so far ahead he had time point at his vest before crossing the line. Ersin Turk won the battle for bronze in a personal best of 8:54.54.
Britain’s women broke their national junior record with 43.89 to win 4x100m title ahead of France a thundering performance by the British quartet, run under an electric storm that raged around the Raul Guidobaldi stadium as torrential rain bounced off the blue track.
France, anchored by their 100m champion Stella Akakpo, took silver in 44.00 while the Netherlands were third in 44.22.
Russia’s other wins
Russia’s other triumphs included a dominant decathlon victory for Yevgeniy Likhanov who scored 7975 to smash his previous by nearly 500 points and go fourth on the European junior all-time list.
Likhanov set eight personal bests in the 10 events to win by 185 points from his teammate Aleksey Cherkasov. The only events where he didn’t improve were the discus and javelin, but he clipped more than a quarter of a second from his sprint hurdles best this morning, added 30cm to his pole vault PB with 4.70, and ran 4:52.58 for 800m.
Cherkasov also had a memorable competition, scoring 7790 points, 178 more than his previous best after big improvements in the discus and pole vault today. Germany’s Tim Nowak was third with 7778 as 11 of the top 13 decathletes ended lifetime best scores.
Alena Lutkovskaia was perhaps Russia’s most surprising day four victor. She won the pole vault ahead of ahead of Fernke Pluim with Italy’s Sonia Malavisi third and Roberta Bruni, the hosts’ other great hope, out of the medals in fifth.Pavel Ivashko overpowered Poland’s Patryk Dobek to win the men’s 4x400m relay gold for Russia in 3:04.87, a national junior record.
Poland triumphed in the women’s 4x400m, though, thanks to a storming last leg from their individual champion, Patrycja Wyciszkiewicz, and in the men’s 4x100m which yielded no medals for either of the two fancied teams, France and Britain.
Zwicker stars on the track
Zwicker lived up to expectations when he sprinted away from the field over the final 300m to claim 800m gold for Germany in 1:49.58.
His front-running tactics in the rounds suggested he might go for broke in the final, but Zwicker played a perfect waiting game this time, taking the lead just before the bell after a slow start before stretching his legs round the penultimate bend and pulling away down the back straight.
Belgian Aaron Botterman fought hard to win the battle for silver in 1:49.80 ahead of Leo Morgana who was delighted to get the bronze for France in 1:50.04.
Nataliya Pryshchepa poached the women’s 1500m title from Poland’s event favourite Sofia Ennaoui, producing a powerful finish in the Rieti rain to claim gold for Ukraine in 4:18.51. Ennaoui took silver in 4:20.20 while Aurora Dybedokken bagged a surprise bronze for Norway with a personal best of 4:21.27.
Jip Vastenburg denied Oona Kettunen a second gold medal when she outkicked the Finn to claim the women’s 5000m title for the Netherlands.
Vastenburg unleashed a long-striding finishing kick to take gold in 16:03.31, leaving Kettunen, the 3000m steeplechase champion, with silver and a personal best of 16:03.79. Elena Kudashkina of Russia claimed bronze in 16:08.12.
Aghasyan gets first gold for Armenia
Aghasyan’s gold in the men’s triple jump was one of the day’s big surprises, the first ever in any event for Armenia at a European juniors.
Coached by 1986 European long jump champion Robert Emmiyans, Aghasyan didn’t figure in the continent’s top 10 junior triple jumpers before the championships, but found his best form of the year when it mattered most, leaping 16.01m to beat Kristian Pulli.
The Finn picked up silver with a personal best of 15.88 just 3cm further than Vladimir Kozlov who claimed bronze for Russia.
By contrast, Flinck’s win in the women’s javelin was thought to be a forgone conclusion but the Swedish star left it mighty late, snatching gold by just 1cm from Germany’s Christin Hussong with a sixth round throw of 57.91.
Hussong had to settle for silver while Sara Kolak was only 11cm adrift in third with a Croatian junior and senior record of 57.79 meaning just 12cm separated the top three.
Róbert Szikszai won the men’s discus with a Hungarian junior record of 64.75. Szikszai produced the three longest throws of the competition to beat Nicholas Percy who was the only other man to get over 62 metres.
Percy picked up silver for Britain with a best of 62.04 while Russia’s Aleksandr Dobrenkiy took bronze with a PB of 61.54.
Germany’s other victory today came in the women’s long jump where Malaika Mihambo produced the form of her life to land the title. Mihambo, whose first name means ‘Angel’ in Swahili, found her wings in round three when she flew out to 6.70, adding 6cm to her personal best.
Britain’s World Junior bronze medallist Jazmin Sawyer took silver with 6.63, extending her PB by 13cm, while Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh jumped 6.44 to bag bronze.
Ukraine’s Kateryna Tabashnyk produced a clean series of jumps from 1.74 to 1.88 and topped out with a PB of 1.90 to win the women’s high jump from Akexandra Yaryshkina while her teammate Iryna Hershchenko took bronze.