Gianmarco Tamberi produced the greatest high jump performance of his career on Sunday to make himself a genuine world championship medal contender.
Italian Tamberi twice broke the national record as he cleared 2.35m and 2.37m on the final day of the 37th Internationales Hochsprung-Meeting in Eberstadt.
Tamberi, 23, the 2011 European junior bronze medallist, was beaten in the end on countback by Canada’s Derek Drouin but that hardly took the shine of his brilliant day which saw him join Ukraine’s world champion Bohdan Bondarenko at the top of the European Athletics rankings.
"It was unbelievable," said Tamberi. "I felt really good."
The men’s event at this European Athletics Outdoor Special Premium meeting was a tremendous competition and one which leaves Tamberi joint-third in the world this year, less than three weeks before the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
His fellow Italian Marco Fassinotti had equalled the national mark of 2.33m in Oslo in June before Tamberi took it up by a centimetre at the start of July.
It was Fassinotti’s fourth competition in eight days and he finished fifth with a best of 2.30m as Tamberi went over 2.35m at the first attempt and then stretched the record to 2.37m.
At that point the Eberfurstarena was buzzing and though Tamberi could go no further, he will now head to China with a podium spot on his mind after an event where Canada’s Michael Mason was third on countback with 2.33m from Donald Thomas, of the Bahamas, the 2007 world champion, with Great Britain’s 2012 European champion Robbie Grabarz in sixth behind Fassinotti with 2.27m.
The day before the women’s event ended a run of five years without a German winner as Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch took the title with 1.96m as she beat a world-class field.
Twelve months ago at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich, Jungfleisch was fifth as Russia’s Mariya Kuchina won silver and Ana Simic, of Croatia, took bronze.
But this time Jungfleisch beat them both to the delight of the crowd on a bright, sunny afternoon.
Simic was second on countback with 1.94m followed by Britain’s new European junior champion Morgan Lake, who equalled her personal best, and Kuchina.
Jungfleisch said: "It was a lot of fun. I come here every year because my family is here. It’s great that the spectators are close to the athletes and that makes a big difference.
"I have no more fear of two metres."
Ruuskanen at his best
With Beijing places up for grabs, it was another busy weekend of national championships across Europe and one that had Finland’s Antti Ruuskanen throwing at his very best.
When Ruuskanen won European gold in Zurich, he achieved it with a personal best (88.01m) but in Pori on Sunday, on the fourth and final day of their championships, the crowds were treated to something even further.
Ruuskanen successfully defended his title in style as he won with 88.98m in the sixth round. A brilliant new record throw for an athlete who will look to be in the mix in China as he beat Tero Pitkamaki (87.82m).
Castello staged the Spanish chanmpionships, where in the women’s discus, Sabina Asenjo broke the national record with a throw of 61.37m while Adel Mechaal won the 5000m (14:10.59) on Saturday before taking the 1500m (3:45.09) on Sunday.
Ruth Beitia, the European high jump champion, has a best of 2.00m this summer and after winning with 1.98m, she then attempted but failed to break the national record (2.03m).
The Netherlands’ Thijmen Kupers had missed to reach the Beijing standard (1:46.00) in the heats of the 800m on Saturday in Amsterdam but 24 hours later his personal best of 1:45.28 booked his spot as he won the title with the eighth best time by a European this summer.
Dana Veldakova, the double European indoor bronze medallist, won the triple jump (14.27m) at the Slovakian championships in Banska Bystrica. Teammate Matus Bubenik achieved a personal best (2.29m) in the high jump which was also the standard for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio. Youth Olympic Games medalist Michaela Peskova won the 400m hurdles in national junior record (58.02).
In Kirovohrad, Kateryna Derun was in fine form as she won the women’s javelin at the Ukrainian championships (61.90m).
There are 44 meetings in Europe this week, for full details go to www.european-athletics.org/calendar.