Pitkämäki turns back the clock

Tero Pitkämäki at the 2015 European Athletics Team Championships
European Athletics

It was a busy time on Thursday with three European Athletics Permit Meetings being staged and a Finnish star really making his mark.

Tero Pitkämäki has always been a great hero of Finnish sport and he increased his standing even more with a magnificent performance at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku.

Trailing in the javelin competition at this European Athletics Premium meeting to Egypt’s Ihab Abdelrahman who had produced a season’s best of 85.50m, Pitkämäki then produced something special in the final round.

To the delight of the home fans, the triple European medallist delivered his best throw since 2007 as the spear landed at 89.09m, a sensational effort to put him top of the European Athletics rankings.

At 32, he remains at the height of his game, with this throw his furthest since his 91.23m in Lapinlahti in the year where he became world champion in Osaka.

Pitkämäki has maintained a brilliant standard since, including a 2013 best of 89.03m, and last summer he won bronze at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich as fellow Finn Antti Ruuskanen took gold.

This time Ruuskanen was in fourth with 84.32m and another Finn, Teemu Wirkkala, was third with 84.39m.

It was a good night for throwing in Turku as Poland's hammer world champion Pawel Fajdek kept up his superb form after his victory at the European Athletics Team Championships Super League in Cheboksary last Saturday.

He won in Russia with 81.64m, a championship record, and this time, with his fifth 80m-plus throw of the season, he won with 80.71m as he beat Hungary’s Olympic champion Krisztian Pars with 77.70m.

Denmark's Andreas Martinsen broke the national 110m hurdles record as he finished fourth in 13.66 in a race won by Cuba’s Yordan O'Farrill in 13.29, while Yulia Leantsiuk, of Belarus, took the shot put with 18.86m, a season’s best.

Great Britain’s Serita Solomon won the 100m hurdles in 13.03, while Estonia’s Rasmus Magi took the 400m hurdles in 49.53.

Almgren keeps up fine run

Just as Pitkämäki was the home star in Finland, Andreas Almgren delivered in style in front of his supporters in Sweden as he won the 800m in a personal best at the Sollentuna Grand Prix.

Almgren, 20, the world junior bronze medallist, triumphed in 1:45.59, a superb victory ahead of Denmark’s Andreas Bube who was second in 1:46.24.

It has been an excellent 11 months for Almgren, whose world junior bronze came in a national junior record of 1:45.65 in Eugene last July before he moved to the senior scene to finish a superb fourth in 1:47.78 at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague in March.

At this European Athletics Classic meeting, Viktoriia Kashcheieva, of Ukraine, won the 200m in good 23.09 from Ireland’s Kelly Proper in 23.24 and Sweden’s Moa Hjelmer in 23.29 while Germany’s Katharina Molitor hit a steady 61.75m for second in the javelin behind Australian Kelsey-Lee Roberts with 63.17m.

There was a British one-two in the men’s 400m, which was a good result for Rabah Yousif who won in 45.38 and in doing so, beat European champion Martin Rooney who was second in 45.77.

Their British teammate Delano Williams also achieved a notable win as he beat European 200m bronze medallist Serhiy Smelyk - 20.62 to 20.68 - but the Ukrainian did take the 100m in 10.37.

Russia finished first and second in the long jump as Olga Sudareva, with 6.60m, beat Olga Kucherenko, with 6.58m, with Sweden’s Erica Jarder in third with 6.57m. 

In the pole vault, Martina Strutz, of Germany, cleared 4.56m to defeat Angelica Bengtsson, the Swedish record-holder, who had a best of 4.50m and there was home win in the men’s discus as Daniel Stahl’s 62.93m was enough to beat Australian Benn Harradine with 61.79m.

Protsenko does enough in Baku

In conditions of 38 degrees, the high jump was staged in a street athletics event on the sidelines of the European Games in Baku and while victory was secured by a Ukrainian, it was probably not the one most expected.

This European Athletics Special Premium meeting brought some of Europe’s leading names - including Bohdan Bondarenko, the world and European champion.

But he managed to clear just 2.15m and finished back tied in seventh as Andriy Protsenko won on countback with 2.30m from Russia’s Aleksandr Shustov.