Kokhan breaks European U20 record twice to win the hammer

Myhaylo Kokhan
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Ukraine's Myhaylo Kokhan set two European U20 records in the hammer final at the Boras 2019 European Athletics U20 Championships

All five of Myhaylo Kokhan’s valid throws in the hammer final at the Boras 2019 European Athletics U20 Championships surpassed the previous championship record and the Ukrainian also had four throws in excess of the now-beaten European U20 record of 82.97m.

This was a performance which was comparable to the Gyor 2019 European Athletics U18 Championships last year when all five of Kokhan’s valid throws would have won the title, the difference being he fell just short of the world U20 record of 85.57m but the 18-year-old still has one year left in the junior ranks to challenge this mark.

Despite the wet circle which was caused by a torrential downpour in the middle of the programme, Kokhan began his campaign with a lifetime best of 81.94m with the 6kg implement before breaking the European record of 82.97m for the first time with 83.47m in the second round to move to second on the world all-time U20 list. 

The ink hadn’t even dried on this record as Kokhan improved it for a second time with his next throw which hit the turf at 84.73m to come within one metre of the seven-year-old world U20 record which stands to Ashraf Amgad El-Seify from Qatar.

Kokhan’s position was to come under some threat in the fourth round as Greece’s world U20 leader Hristos Frantzeskakis banished the memories of recording three no-throws at both the 2017 European U20 Championships and 2018 IAAF World U20 Championships by improving his Greek U20 record out to 84.22m - in excess of both the previous championship record and European record.

Having already improved by three metres, Frantzeskakis was unable to muster up the 51 centimetres to topple Kokhan who concluded his fine series with throws of 83.72m and 83.45m before his sixth round attempt crashed into the cage.

“The competition started with difficulties because of the rain. I felt much better when the sun came out,” said Kokhan who already has the qualifying standard for the IAAF World Championships with the senior implement.

Frantzeskakis led the world U20 list with the U20 implement prior to Boras but the Greek was more than pleased to come away not only with a silver medal but also a Greek record.

“I'm very happy, very excited because last year at the World U20 Championships I had three fouls - and the same again the year before. I wish I could have thrown over 85 metres because it's my last year throwing with 6kg. Nonetheless I am still very happy with this result,” he said.

In an excellent competition en masse Italy’s Giorgio Olivieri won bronze with 78.75m ahead of lifetime bests for Hungary’s Donat Varga (78.43m) and Bulgaria’s Valentin Andreev (77.15m) in fourth and fifth.

Double Italian gold in the 100m finals 

The Italians won three medals in the space of thirty minutes on the second evening session and they currently top the medal table with two gold medals.

In the men’s 100m, Lorenzo Paissan came through after pre-race favourite and European U20 leader Jeremiah Azu from Great Britain pulled up with a hamstring injury, winning in 10.44 ahead of Poland’s Antoni Plichta in 10.52.

The women’s 100m final could have scarcely been closer as Vittoria Fontana outdipped N’ketia Seedo from the Netherlands. Both of them were timed at 11.40 but Fontana was given the verdict on the photo-finish, winning by 0.006.

“I’m so excited for this amazing medal and especially now with Lorenzo also being the gold medallist in the men’s 100m,” she said. “I came here to win; I believed in myself until the finish and I'm so happy for that.”

Seedo posted the fastest time of the whole competition in the heats with 11.37 but this still marked an excellent championships for the recently turned 16-year-old who was making her major championships debut.

Not only did she come away with an individual silver medal, Seedo also set the three fastest times of her career at this competition: 11.37 in the heat and 11.40 in both the semifinal and final. Her pre-championships lifetime best stood at 11.70 although a 7.27 60m PB clearly demonstrated she was capable of a much faster time for the 100m.

“I am very happy with my first international medal. I was so nervous in the blocks as always in a final,” she said.

Erta eclipses European U20 lead in the 400m heats; Hunt makes a faultless debut 

The 400m heats produced some unexpectedly fast times with Spain’s Bernat Erta and Italy’s Edoardo Scotti both running faster than the previous European U20 lead of 46.31 with 46.28 and 46.29 to finish first and second respectively in the second heat. Turkey’s Ilyas Canakci also came away with a lifetime best of 46.52.

The Irish contingent arrived in Boras with medal chances across the programme and Davicia Patterson put herself in title contention in the 400m, qualifying fastest from the semifinals with 52.81. Teammate and European U20 leader Aaron Sexton also eased to victory in the 200m heats in 21.17.

Meanwhile, Amy Hunt made an excellent track debut at the championships, easing to the fastest time in the 200m heats in 23.23.

“It was meant to be raining so I was happy that it was warm and I was really happy with how it went,” said Hunt. Even though she leads the world U20 list with 22.42, the Brit isn’t taking anything for granted.

“It’s a championship and everyone has one aim in mind: you have to go out there and do the best you can do.”