Maslak looks for good opening on way to the big event

Maslak's off to a flyer as Storl, Schwanitz and Kszczot top world rankings
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Pavel Maslak has his sights set on the Prague 2015 European Athletics Indoor Championships.

A winter would not be a winter without Pavel Maslak winning a 400m gold medal and if that happens in March the noise at the 02 Arena in Prague will be electric.

The European Athletics Indoor Championships is edging nearer and Maslak, 23, is set to be one of the biggest names the home crowd will come to see.

Having been forced to miss last summer and the European Athletics Championships in Zurich, the Czech Republic star is very much back to fitness and is planning his first race of the year.

That will come on 1 February in Moscow at the Russian Winter meeting and could set the standard for the rest of Europe to follow.

As he showed in Göteborg in 2013, Maslak is such a difficult athlete to pass when he hits the front.

In that final it came as the stagger broke at the end of the first lap, with Maslak moving across from a prime lane five to take charge.

Along the back straight, his level of concentration is a picture in itself as he powers away before turning for home to triumph in 45.66, a national record, with Great Britain’s Nigel Levine over half a second back in second in 46.21.

Maslak was already the European 400m outdoor champion at that time and he added the world indoor title to his collection with victory in Sopot last March by lowering the national record to 45.24.

A right hamstring injury saw him miss Zurich but now he is back ready to make a stern defence of his crown in Prague, and will hope Moscow gives him a good foundation for that.

He is aiming for a time in the 46-second region as he builds towards a peak and the opposition will include American Calvin Smith Jr, who won 4x400m indoor relay gold in Sopot.

Places in Prague for the Czech athletes will be driving force for even better performances in these weeks before the European Athletics Indoor Championships which open on March 6 and sprinter Zdenek Stromsik is a good example of that after equalling his 60m personal best of 6.76 in Jablonec on Wednesday.