Hejnova making progress as Maslak sets new standards

Hejnova making progress as Maslak sets new standards
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Zuzana Hejnova is recovering from injury and has made the 2014 European Athletics Championships in Zurich her primary target for the season.

There is double good news for the Czech Republic with Zuzana Hejnova on the road to recovering from injury and Pavel Maslak in flying form.

In 2014, the nation celebrated one of its greatest years in track and field, led by the brilliance of Hejnova, the world champion at 400m hurdles and European Athletics’ female Athlete of the Year.

But she has been ruled out of the indoor season after fracturing a bone in her instep at the start of this month and as she said at the time: “I was training and suddenly I felt a pain.”

The pain has now gone, and though she still uses crutches, she is going to be back in the weight room soon and will swim with the hope that she will return to full training in April.

Hejnova’s sights are now set on the European Athletics Championships in Zurich in August where, if back to her best, she would be the clear favourite.

Two years ago in Helsinki she finished fourth before a few weeks later winning Olympic bronze and launching the start of her superb run to the top of the rankings.

Her teammate Maslak is Europe’s number one 400m runner and he is on the way to another good year.

Maslak is the European champion indoors and out and he has made his best opening to a winter season.

Running at an open meeting in Prague’s Strahov Hall, Maslak became the quickest Czech ever over 500m as he won in 1:01.15, the second best on the European all-time list too, beating fellow Czech Daniel Nemecek, who was second in 1:01.88, an indoor personal best.

Maslak was just 0.9 outside German Carsten Kohrbruck’s European 500m record from 1991.

But that was just the start.

Seventy minutes after this performance, he was back on track to win the 300m in 32.71, his second fastest time at the distance, with Poland’s Rafal Omelko second in 33.15, a national all-time best.

He was happy with his runs but knew he could have gone even faster.

Maslak said: “I started too quickly in the 500m, otherwise my final time could have been under 1:01. And with the 300m after the 500m, I am more than satisfied.”

He will next compete in the PSD Bank event - a European Athletics Permit meeting - in Dusseldorf on Thursday night.