Carro and Miller make it a night to remember in Madrid

Polina Miller wins the 400m at the Boras 2019 European Athletics U20 Championships
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Fernando Carro’s 3000m win in the very last event of the night didn’t set any records, other than the fact that he went under eight minutes for the first time when he stopped the clock in 7:51.69 , but it brought the curtain down in a hugely satisfactory way at the Madrid international meeting on Sunday, the third European Athletics Premium Permit Meeting of the summer.

It was also not what the recently minted Spanish 3000m steeplechase record holder did but the way that he did it that caught the eye.

Having bided his time back in the pack during the first two kilometres, often running in around 10th place as the runners circled the new Estadio Vallehermoso in the Spanish capital, which was staging its first international athletics meeting having been inaugurated the day before, he slightly missed a break as daylight started to appear between the first four runners and the rest with about 900 metres to go.

However, he closed a gap of 25 metres in a matter of seconds and then just tacked himself onto the back of the group.

With three men still in contention coming into the home straight for the final time, Carro unleashed a blistering sprint over the final 60 metres to clinch a memorable victory and beat Ethiopia’s teenage star Tadese Worku in the final event of the night.

“As soon as the date for this meeting was confirmed I wanted to compete here. I’m from Madrid, I grew up not too far away, and remember this stadium from when I was a young athlete,” reflected the 2018 European Athletics Championships steeplechase silver medallist and 2019 European list leader over the barrier.

“After tonight, I’m going back to the steeplechase. I have three more races before Doha, all steeplechases: the Spanish championships next week, the Diamond League final i8n Brussels and then representing Europe in The Match in Minsk.”

“I’m in shape to attack my Spanish record (8:05.69 in Monaco last month for fourth on the European all-time list) but realistically the only chance will be in Brussels, the Spanish championships are about being there and The Match is likely to turn into an interesting tactical battle as there are no pacemakers although the Americans are sending some strong runners.”

Like Carro, Russia’s European U20 400m champion Polina Miller was a well-known entity in the sport before this summer but has really made her mark in 2019.

Running in lane two, the Authorised Neutral Athlete utilised Madrid’s helpful 650 metres altitude and sped around one lap of the striking lime green track before crossing the line in 51.00 for a Russian U20 record and the fastest time by a European U20 for 13 years.

It also moved her up to number three on the European list for the event and further emphasised her status as the world’s leading female U20 400m exponent this year.

A second home win among the five European victories came courtesy of Orlando Ortega who won the 110m hurdles in 13.32.

Speculation had been rife that, given the conditions, Ortega might have a chance of getting close to his Spanish record of 13.04.However, by his own admission, he was suffering from tiredness after running in Paris the previous night, where he finished second in the IAAF Diamond League in 13.14.

Belarus’ Dzimtry Nabokau was the only man over 2.26m, which he cleared with his first attempt and then for good measure he equalled his season’s best when he went over 2.30m at the second time of asking before failing three times at 2.33m.

The 2017 European U23 champion’s win in the Spanish capital made it four out of five competitions outdoors this year and he will be hoping to extend that record on home soil in The Match.

Romanian record holder Alexandru Novac, the 2019 European U23 silver medallist, was the only man over 80 metres in the javelin and won with his third round effort of 80.73m.

Impressive second places in the 100m were posted by France’s European record co-holder Jimmy Vicaut and Bulgaria’s evergreen Ivet Lalova-Collio.

As the slowest man to react to the gun Vicaut left himself a lot of ground to make up in the early stages of the race but in the end only Michael Rodgers, who won in 9.97 and will be part of the USA team at The Match, preceded him to the line as Vicaut finished in 10.05.

The 35-year-old Lalova-Collio, the 2012  European 100m champion came through very strongly over the final 40 metres of her outing to finish second in 11.08, her fastest legal time since 2013, behind South Africa's Carolina Horn who set a meeting record of 11.01.

Local interest was also fuelled by the appearance in the long jump of the European U20 heptatlon champion and Spanish record holder Maria Vicente, and the teenager duly deliver by adding two centimetres to her personal best when finishing third with 6.49m.

However, for another Spanish record holder it was more-or-less a night to forget as Bruno Hortelano had his first competition for than a year after a series of injuries, including a groin problem during the indoor season and most recently an Achilles tendon strain.

After setting the Spanish standard of 44.63 in the Madrid meeting last year, this time he could only trail in eighth and last in 46.32.