Mihaljevic and Swiety-Ersetic clinch Tour titles with wins in Madrid

Filip Mihaljevic
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Filip Mihaljevic from Croatia produced one of the highlights in Madrid on Friday night

Croatian shot putter Filip Mihaljevic and Poland’s 2018 European 400m champion Justyna Swiety-Ersetic added $20,000 to their bank accounts after wins at the final World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting in Madrid saw them top the standings in their respective disciplines on Friday (21) night.

Mihaljevic, who had improved the Croatian indoor record to 21.52m in Dusseldorf at the start of the month, had produced an impressive series with three efforts over 21 metres from his first five visits to the circle and a best mark of 21.41m in the fifth round but still lay back in third, behind Poland’s Konrad Bukowiecki and Czech Republic’s Tomas Stanek, who had 21.73m and 21.54m to their names prior to the final round.

However, and with not only victory on the night but the Tour win at stake, Mihaljevic unleashed a mighty put in the sixth round that was clearly better than he had done before in the competition.

After a few agonising seconds the distance of 21.74m, a national indoor record and just 10cm short of his outdoor best set last year, went up in lights on the scoreboards around the Centro Deportivo Municipal Gallur in Madrid’s south west suburbs.

Stanek and Bukowiecki were still to put but both men fouled their final attempts in a last-ditch effort to get back on top and so the plaudits went to the Croatian. “I knew I was in good shape from the practice throws. I had one put and I thought it was about 20 metres, but I looked at my coach and he was going ‘It’s 21 (metres)’,” reflected Mihaljevic. “However, coming here I was thinking I might be in shape to throw 21.30 to 21.40 so this throw (21.74m) comes as a big surprise.”

Swiety-Ersetic’s 400m win over two laps of the track was an equally last gasp effort. Switzerland’s Lea Sprunger, the Berlin 2018 European 400m hurdles champion and 400m gold medallist without the barriers in Glasgow just under 12 months ago, led through the first lap in 24.62.

Sprunger then held onto pole position into the final bend but Poland’s 2018 European 400m champion outdoors found another gear as they entered the home straight and just edged around the outside of her tiring rival before striding away to win in 51.93 with Sprunger second in 52.36.

It was not part of the World Athletics Indoor Tour but there was another memorable win the men’s 60m hurdles for Great Britain’s 2018 World indoor champion Andrew Pozzi, who extended his 2020 unbeaten streak to seven races, including heats.

After cruising to a seemingly effortless 7.55 heat win, Pozzi took the final in emphatic fashion and was victorious in a season’s best of 7.48, coming home just 0.01 shy of Pascal Martinot-Lagarde’s European-leading time on home soil in Lievin, France two nights previously.

Without Armand Duplantis, who had already clinched the World Athletics Indoor Tour title, the men’s pole vault was always going to have a slightly anti-climatic feel to it but Greece’s Konstantinos Filippidis had a clean sheet up to an including 5.60m to take the win, his only failures coming when the bar was raised to 5.70.

Spain’s Igor Bychkov needed two attempts to clear 5.60m and, after three failures at 5.70m, finished second.

Good European performances on the night also came from France’s Marvin Raffin, who finished second in the triple jump with 17.07m, his longest effort since setting a world U20 indoor record of 17.20m at the 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships, while Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou, the reigning European long jump champion indoors and out, was second in his specialist event with a season’s best of 8.07m.

However, both Raffin and Tentoglou were some way adrift of their respective event winners. Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria soared to a world-leading 8.41m while Burkina Faso’s Fabrice Hugues Zango bounded out to 17.31m to win the triple jump.

Jan Volko, after several near misses, finally broke the Slovakian 60m record when he finished third in 6.55 to go second on the European 2020 list for the sprint, with USA’s Ronnie Baker winning in Madrid in 6.44.