Heptathlon finely balanced after the first day of the heptathlon

Maria Vicente
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Spain's Maria Vicente heads overnight with a two point lead over Great Britain's Holly Mills after four events of the heptathlon at the Boras 2019 European Athletics U20 Championships

A tantalising two points separate Spain’s world and European U18 champion Maria Vicente from Spain and Great Britain’s Holly Mills after the first day of a captivating heptathlon at the Boras 2019 European Athletics U20 Championships.

Vicente was palpably frustrated by her high jump but she finished her day on a positive note by winning the 200m in a lifetime best of 23.76 to bring her score to 3565 points, moving from fifth to first in the standings in the process. “Now that I'm the one leading the competition, I feel a bit more pressure,” said Vicente. “But I still want to have fun and enjoy it - as I always do.”

Mills fell from first to third after mustering up a best throw of 10.86m in the shot put but she clawed her way back into contention with a 24.15 clocking in the 200m - her fastest time in a heptathlon and just 0.02 adrift of her lifetime best.

“It started off well but then my shot put just went wrong. My first round throw was over 12 metres but my toe hit the board and my second two throws just weren’t there. The 200m, I wanted a bit more but overall I’m satisfied,” said Mills, who begins the second day with a very strong event.

“I’m hoping to jump near my PB of 6.51m in the long jump; if I can get close to that, that would be super.”

Ireland’s Kate O’Connor dropped from first to third after the 200m but she is still very much in the discussion for the title at this stage of the competition.  

O’Connor came away with lifetime bests in the high jump (1.81m) and 200m (24.82) to take her tally to 3543 points. She might not be renowned for her long jump but O’Connor will almost certainly pile on the pressure in the javelin - an event which she is capable of approaching the 50-metre line.

And world U20 leader Annik Kalin from Switzerland is still in the fray for the title. She is only 59 points behind Vicente in fourth and is a strong second day performer with lifetime bests of 6.39m in the long jump, 44.98m in the javelin and 2:17.38 in the 800m. 

Seedo and Azu set the fastest times in the 100m semifinals

On a decidedly cooler evening at the Ryavallen Stadium in Boras, N’Ketia Seedo was nonetheless almost just as fast as she was in the heats, qualifying for tomorrow evening’s 100m final in 11.40, holding off a late charge from Italy’s Vittoria Fontana in 11.42.

“I came to Boras just to learn and now I have got a PB and I made it to the final being the fastest runner,” said Seedo. “I never expected that.”

Seedo came to the championships with a lifetime best of 11.70 but she showed some semblance of the form which took her to a 7.27 clocking over 60m during the indoor season by smashing the Dutch U18 record of 11.37 in the heats.

While Seedo is making her major international debut after missing the European U18 Championships in Gyor last year due to injury, Spain’s Jael Bestue and Turkey’s Mizgin Ay will be looking to crown their junior careers with some silverware two years after winning medals at the IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi.

Bestue and Ay finished third and fourth in the same semifinal as Seedo in 11.52 and 11.62 respectively but their times were the third and fifth fastest across the two semifinals.

In the mens’ 100m, European U20 leader Jeremiah Azu has only embellished his credentials throughout the day. After qualifying fastest from the heats with 10.56, Azu improved to 10.37 to win his semifinal. 

The other semifinal winners were Italy’s Lorenzo Paissan (10.42) and Azu’s teammate Chad Miller (10.47) but one notable non-qualifier was Finland’s Samuel Purola, the silver medallist behind Italy’s Filippo Tortu two years ago, who finished fourth in the second semifinal in 10.53.

Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh, who became the youngest ever jumper to clear 2.00m earlier this season, took just two jumps to progress through to the high jump final at 1.81m while another outstanding favourite Elina Tzenggo from Greece made it through to the javelin final with 53.17m on her second attempt.