A smattering of stars from last summer’s Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships will be in action at the Gavle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships from 11-14 July which has attracted over 1000 athletes representing 50 nations.
One of the biggest names in action will be 21-year-old Miltiadis Tentoglou who will be looking to complete the set of major European titles in the long jump. The Greek has already made the standard at senior level having won both the European indoor and outdoor titles and he will be looking to cap his career in the age-group ranks with his fourth major title in two years.
Tentoglou’s hot streak in major events goes back to the 2017 European U20 Championships when he won in Grosseto with 8.07m and he begins as the outstanding favourite to win the corresponding title at U23 level.
Tentoglou jumped 8.38m to win the European indoor title in Glasgow and a repeat performance in Gavle would put him one centimetre in excess of the championship record held by Eusebio Caceres from Spain. He leads the European U23 outdoor list with 8.19m ahead of Spain’s Hector Santos and Great Britain’s Jacob Fincham-Dukes who have season’s bests of 8.11m and 8.00m respectively.
Herman and Sacoor among the leading track attractions
Elvira Herman has been similarly prolific in major European competitions since winning the European U20 title in Eskilstuna four years ago and the Belarusian has another chance to improve on the silver medal which she won behind Nadine Visser two years ago in the 100m hurdles.
Herman’s path to the title has been made easier by the fact France’s Solene Ndama will only be contesting the heptathlon in Gavle but the European champion still faces significant opposition from Poland’s Klaudia Siciarz who has improved to 12.87 this season. This performance puts her a very competitive second on the 2019 European U23 list which Herman leads with 12.84.
A third European champion in action later this week is Belgium’s Jonathan Sacoor. Coached by Jacques Borlee, Sacoor won the individual world U20 400m title in Tampere last summer before joining forces with his esteemed teammates to win the European 4x400m title in Berlin where he produced a 44.7 leg in the final.
Still only 19 - which makes him eligible for the next edition of the championships in Bergen - Sacoor will only contest the 4x400m relay in Gavle. He is the fastest on their roster based on season's bests at 46.22 and with two other sprinters on their team with performances inside the 47 second-barrier, the Belgians could emulate their senior counterparts on the final day of the championships.
Bukowiecki among 10 defending European U23 champions in action
Poland’s Konrad Bukowiecki improved the championship record three times at the last European U23 Championships in Bydgoszcz, beginning his campaign with 21.26m in the qualifying round before improving to 21.44m and 21.59m in the final.
At his very best, Bukowiecki could handsomely break the record for a fourth time in Gavle as the 22-year-old relieved Germany’s David Storl of his long-standing European outdoor U23 record at the start of June with 21.97m to win in the Rome Diamond League.
But as good as we know Bukowiecki can be, the Pole has lacked consistency this season. He didn’t make it through qualifying at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow where he was defending his title but Bukowiecki does arrive Gavle in record-breaking form as his throw of 21.54m in Naples on Monday evening surpassed the championship record at the World University Games.
There will be high expectations on the shoulders of home favourite Wictor Petersson in the shot put. Petersson has won medals on the global stage at both U18 and U20 level and the 21-year-old will be looking to land his first significant European accolade having set a lifetime best of 20.70m earlier this season.
There will also be very high expectations on Andreas Kramer in the 800m, the most high profile Swedish athlete in action at the championships with European pole vault champion Armand Duplantis not competing.
Kramer is the reigning champion in the 800m and he followed up that title with silver on his European Championships debut in Berlin. The 22-year-old has ownership of both the fastest lifetime best (1:45.03) and season’s best (1:45.33) in the field but Mateusz Borkowski from Poland, who only finished three places behind Kramer in Berlin last August, shouldn't be discounted.
Another distance double on the cards for Reh?
Germany topped the medal table in Bydgoszcz two years ago with four gold medals and Alina Reh could match half of this tally single-handedly.
Reh won a 3000/5000m double at the 2015 European U20 Championships in Eskilstuna and she will be bidding for a 5000/10,000m double on Swedish soil once again this week, starting as the overwhelming title favourite in both events.
Only two athletes on the entry-list have come within two minutes of Reh’s lifetime best of 31:19.87 which she set at the German Championships in May when she led from gun-to-tape, lapping the entire field in the process - a scenario which could play out again on the second day of the championships.
The 5000m should be a more competitive affair against reigning European U23 cross country and 3000m steeplechase champion Anna Emilie Moller from Denmark but Reh still leads the European U23 list by a consequential margin with 15:04.10 which she set in Stockholm. Moller clocked 15:22.69 in the same race.
The German team arrives in Gavle replete with title chances across the programme. There will be particularly keen interest in the progression of decathlete Niklas Kaul who produced one of two world U20 records at the 2017 European U20 Championships in Grosseto.
Kaul, 21, has already set a lifetime best of 8336 points this season and another proportionate performance will further solidify his selection prospects for the IAAF World Championships in Doha which begin in late September.
The final entries for the European Athletics U23 Championships can be found here and the championships will be streamed live on the European Athletics website.