Filip Mihaljevic capped his breakthrough indoor season with another Croatian record in the shot put at the Serbian Open Indoor Meeting in Belgrade on Thursday (27) evening, the final European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting of the season.
Mihaljevic took the lead in the first round with 20.98m but Balkan indoor champion Mesud Pezer from Bosnia & Herzegovina kept the pressure on the Croatian during the first half of the competition, improving throughout his series with marks of 20.77m, 20.85m and 20.89m.
But Mihaljevic found his 21 metre-plus form in the second half of the competition, embellishing his lead in the fourth round with 21.38m before improving to 21.84m in the fifth round. This was his third Croatian indoor record of the season - he also threw 21.52m in Dusseldorf and 21.74m in Madrid to win both competitions - and that mark also matched his national outdoor record.
Mihaljevic has already tasted success on the global stage, winning bronze at the 2016 World Indoor Championships but the Croatian candidly admitted in a recent interview that he struggled to bridge the gap from the collegiate to the professional ranks.
“I couldn’t have asked for more when I was in Virginia, but it took me a year or two to adjust to the professional world, 2018 was a year of stagnation. But I think I’ve got it right now and sometimes you learn from bad things that happen. I think I did,” he recently told European Athletics.
Pezer also surpassed the 21 metre-line in the sixth round with 21.06m with home favourites Asmir Kolasinac and Armin Sinancevic third and fourth respectively with 20.70m and 20.34m.
European indoor champion Gianmarco Tamberi from Italy was another of the high-profile names in action in the Serbian capital and he concluded his brief indoor season by setting a season’s best of 2.25m in the high jump to beat Bulgaria’s Tihomir Ivanov with 2.22m
Former European indoor champion Izmir Smajlaj from Albania won the long jump with 7.94m from Serbia’s Strahinja Jovancevic with 7.85m and his teammate Franko Burraj was the fastest across the two 400m races in 47.20. 19-year-old Bosko Kijanovic was second fastest across the two races with 47.32 from heat one. His older brother Aleksa won the 60m in 6.71.
Other notable performances included Maja Mihaljevic from Slovenia winning the 60m in 7.22 and Grete Kerekes from Hungary winning the 60m hurdles in 8.13.