Double gold for Switzerland on the second day of competition in Gävle

Geraldine Ruckstuhl
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Switzerland's Geraldine Ruckstuhl triumphed in the heptathlon at the Gavle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships 

Switzerland’s Geraldine Ruckstuhl overhauled Sophie Weissenberg from Germany to win an enthralling heptathlon on the second day of competition at the Gavle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships with a season’s best of 6274 points.

Ruckstuhl was fourth overnight and while the heavy rain and cold conditions held back nearly all of the heptathletes in the long jump, Ruckstuhl managed to come away with a season’s best of 5.87m while only two athletes - Weissenberg (6.04m) and Belgium’s Hanne Maudens (6.22m) - surpassed the six metre-line.

Ruckstuhl didn’t squander as many points as others in a rain affected competition and the conditions improved markedly for the javelin which allowed Ruckstuhl to produce three throws in excess of the 54 metre-line: 54.47m, 54.58m and 54.82m. All three throws were in excess of the previous championship best and brought her to within 18 points of Weissenberg who threw close to her lifetime best with 47.92m.

Ruckstuhl was hoping for something even longer in the javelin but she is by far the faster on paper in the 800m and so it played out with the Swiss finishing off an excellent two days with a lifetime best of 2:12.05, bringing her score to 6274 points. 

Weissenberg couldn’t replicate the 2:17.06 she produced in Gotzis in May but she was still safe in silver, crossing the line 2:20.30 to bring her score up to 6175 points. “This might have been one of the toughest 800m races in my life. In the middle of the race I felt that my legs was all sore and that I couldn't run anymore, but it went well,” said Weissenberg who still came away with her first major combined events medal.

Four athletes were still in contention for the bronze and Belgium’s Hanne Maudens ground out a lifetime best by nearly three seconds, running it gun-to-tape in 2:08.79 to ensure bronze with a season’s best of 6093 points ahead of Emma Oosterwegel from the Netherlands (6072 points) and Austria’s Sarah Lagger (6026 points).

There was a second gold medal for Switzerland’s Jason Joseph in the 110m hurdles. Joseph had the close company of combined events specialist Artem Makarenko up until the eighth flight of hurdles but while the Russian clipped a barrier and lost some momentum, Joseph kept his technique to win gold in 13.45. 

“You come as far as these championships and you know everyone is there to hunt you down - for me, there was never any other option than to win the gold medal. I was hungry for it and the pressure on my shoulders actually helps build me up,” said Joseph.

In a frantic dip to the line, Makarenko lost out on the medals completely in fourth (13.65) just behind Poland’s Michal Sierocki in a 13.63 PB with Great Britain’s Cameron Fillery taking bronze in 13.64.

Swoboda dominates and Larsson rises to the occasion in the 100m

As expected, the women’s 100m final was a clear-cut affair with the title going to reigning champion Ewa Swoboda whereas the men’s 100m final was won by a whisker by home favourite Henrik Larsson from Sweden.

Swoboda was the fastest in the heats and semifinals and the Pole rocketed out of the blocks in the final, extending her lead all the way to the line, winning in 11.15 by 0.25 from France’s Cynthia Leduc.

“When I run as fast as this, I feel happy and confident so today, I feel very happy. Today was my day and it's a big relief now,” said Swoboda, although her work in Gavle isn’t done just yet. 

“It was a good race and now I will concentrate on the relay - it's a new team but we all get along and we have a good chance to maybe sneak a medal.”

By contrast, Larsson produced a brilliant last 30 metres to force his way across the finish in first. He was the second youngest entrant in the event but he comes away with the title after winning in a slightly wind-assisted 10.23 ahead of Great Britain’s Oliver Bromby (10.24) and Joris van Gool from the Netherlands (10.27).

“I got a really bad start I but caught up with the rest of the competitors quickly,” said Larsson. “That doesn't matter though, we're running 100 meters, not 60 meters.”

Swoboda's teammate Konrad Bukowiecki also successfully defended his title in the shot put but it took three rounds for the Pole to find his best form. After starting with 19.16m and a no-throw, Bukowiecki moved into the lead with 20.79m in round three before producing his best throw of the competition of 21.51m in the fourth round; just eight centimetres adrift of his championship record from two years ago.

Alina Reh produced what will almost certainly remain the most dominant performance of the championships in Gavle.

The German beat the championship record in the 10,000m with a gun-to-tape win in 31:39.34. Teammate Miriam Dattke was a completely isolated second in 32:29.45 and there was more than a one minute wait until Jasmijn Lau from the Netherlands crossed the line for bronze in 33:35.66.

Reh’s dominance was such that she had lapped the entire field - with the exception of Dattke, who kept pace for Reh for the first 800 metres - before the halfway point.

Watch the European Athletics U23 Championships live and on-demand at https://athletics.eurovisionsports.tv/.