Home favourite Larsson qualifies fastest for the 100m semifinals

Henrik Larsson
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Henrik Larsson set the fastest time in the 100m heats at the Gavle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships

At 19, Henrik Larsson is the second youngest entrant for the men’s 100m at the Gavle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships but the Swedish teenager was the fastest across the four heats of the 100m this morning.

Times were pegged back across the heats due to strong headwinds but the wind dropped slightly for the third heat. This allowed Larsson to qualify fastest with 10.45 (-1.0) ahead of Brit Dominic Ashwell with 10.46 in the same heat. The semifinals take place 6.30pm local time tonight. 

Not only is Larsson confident of beating sprinters up to two years his senior, the home favourite is also hoping to eclipse the long-standing Swedish senior record of 10.18 in the latter stages of the competition. He currently holds the Swedish U23 record at 10.20.

“The goal for the championship is obviously the gold medal, but I’ve also got my eye on the Swedish record as well, if there’s a good tailwind,” he said.

The competition is wide open in the absence of Italy’s Filippo Tortu but one prospective medal aspirant who didn’t make it through was Joshua Hartmann. The German, who is the joint fastest on paper at these championships with 10.16, was fourth in the first heat in 10.98 against a sizeable headwind. 

The women’s sprinters were also buffeted by a persistent headwind but reigning champion Ewa Swoboda still produced a statement run, powering through a 1.8 m/s headwind to stop the clock at 11.48 - the fastest time of the day by nearly four-tenths.

“Right now I am happy and that’s when I run my best races,” said the European indoor 60m champion.

Albania has never won a medal at the European U23 Championships but 20-year-old Franko Burraj could very well put the Balkan nation on the standings in Gavle.

He progressed through the 400m heats with the fastest time of the day at 47.14 ahead of Poland’s Tymoteusz Zimny (47.14) and Italy’s reigning European U20 champion Vladimir Aceti (47.30).

Albania last competed at the European U23 Championships in 2003 and their best performance thus far was a tenth-place finish from hammer thrower Dorian Collaku in 1999.  

Finland’s Maria Huntington has amassed a lead of 64 points after two events of a heptathlon which has veered away from the script.

European indoor pentathlon bronze medallist Solene Ndama, who scored a significant lifetime best of 6292 points in Talence, didn’t record a height in the high jump while reigning European U20 champion Alina Shukh from Ukraine finds herself adrift of the top-10 after two events.

Huntington wasn’t able to fully capitalise on her strong sprint hurdles prowess as a headwind pegged her back to a 13.89 clocking but this was still the second fastest time of the day behind Ndama’s 13.38.

But the Finn performed beyond expectations in the high jump, improving her lifetime best by three centimetres to 1.85m behind Sweden’s Bianca Salming with 1.88m. This brought Huntington’s tally to 2035 points after two events ahead of Poland’s Adrianna Sulek (1971 points) and Germany’s Sophie Weissenberg (1952 points).

Reigning European indoor and outdoor champion Miltiadis Tentoglou from Greece was the first jumper to surpass the automatic qualifying mark of 7.75m. 

Tentoglou hit the sand at 7.80m but the best mark of the day went to Estonia’s former combined events specialist Hans-Christian Hausenberg who recorded a wind-assisted 7.98m.

Former world U18 champion Sofiya Palkina looks on course for the second major title of her career as the European U23 leader topped the two rounds of qualifying with her first throw which hit the turf at 66.84m.

The current European U20 champion Katerina Skypalova only just scraped to the final with her opening throw of 60.11m