Just one track final was completed on the first day of competition in Tallinn but Ali Kaya’s gun-to-tape win in the 10,000m will surely remain the most dominant of the European Athletics Under-23 Championships.
Kaya, who recently set a European under-23 10,000m record of 27:24.09 at the Turkish national championships, wasn’t even too far off Mo Farah’s European record pace through the second kilometre in 5:23.94 at the Kadriorg Stadium.
Starting quickly was part of Kaya’s ploy and while he began to drift off sub-27 minute tempo, his advantage continued to balloon to the point where he saluted the crowds in the home straight with six laps remaining.
While Kaya’s winning time wasn’t as spectacular as the initial pace suggested, the Turk still put on a fantastic display for the knowledgeable crowd who lapped up Kaya’s aggressive front-running tactics.
With a last lap of 1:03.15, Kaya stopped the clock at 27:53.38 to obliterate the long-standing championship record of 28:31.12 set by Italy’s Rachid Berradi in 1997.
“I am satisfied with the first place and my time today,” said Kaya, the 2013 European junior 5000m and 10,000m champion.
“It is a good time but I had to keep in mind that I still have to run the 5000m in this competition. My tactic was to start fast and then I knew I will have a lead that I can keep until the end.”
By contrast, the race for the minor medals went right to the wire. Yassine Rachik miscounted the number of laps and while he entered the last circuit with a clear margin, the tiring Italian was pipped for silver by the fast-finishing Russian Mikhail Strelkov, 28:53.94 to 28:53.99.
The women’s shot put also produced an exciting climax. Shanice Craft’s second round throw of 17.19m seemed good enough for the title until Viktoriya Kolb from Belarus catapulted herself to top-spot with a European under-23 leading mark of 17.47m with the penultimate throw of the competition.
Craft responded with a season’s best of 17.29m but the German had to settle for her third silver medal at under-23 level. Her team-mate Sara Gambetta, a former heptathlete, took bronze with a lifetime best of 16.99m.
With the first day of the heptathlon completed, Hungary’s Xenia Krizsan looks poised to claim the title. The 22-year-old leads the standings by 139 points ahead of Ivona Dadic from Austria.
The standard in the women’s 400m heats was set by Romania’s Bianca Razor, the European junior champion from four years ago.
With only the first two qualifying automatically for the final, Razor didn’t leave anything to chance in the first heat which was by far the toughest of the three.
Razor stopped the clock at 51.31 ahead of Poland’s Patrycja Wyciszkiewicz, whose time of 51.62 was her fastest since winning the European junior title two years ago in 51.56.
Fresh from anchoring the French 4x400m team to victory at the European Team Championships in Cheboksary, Thomas Jordier looked impressive as he qualified fastest for the men’s equivalent in an equal lifetime best of 45.59.
His team-mate Renelle Lamote also eased through to the women’s 800m final while Ukraine’s Anastasiya Tkachuk impressed with the fastest qualifying time of 2:02.03.
Despite the cool and breezy conditions on the first morning, Rebekka Haase from Germany sped to the fastest time in the women’s 100m heats with 11.25. A German one-two might be on the cards with Alexandra Burghardt also impressing with 11.52.
The conditions deteriorated for the start of the evening session but the Germans also looked poised for victory in the women’s javelin courtesy of Christin Hussong, who led qualifying with a European under-23 leading mark of 62.59m.
In the long jump, team-mate Fabian Heinle was the only athlete to gain automatic qualification with 7.76m.