Will the European long jump champion in Berlin become the world champion in Doha?
Germany’s Malaika Mihambo staked her claim for another year to remember as she broke the seven-metre barrier in the long jump for the first time with a world lead at the IAAF Diamond League in Rome on Thursday night.
Mihambo entered the Olympic Stadium with 6.99m to her name and although she looked dominant - with good jumps of 6.73m, 6.69m and 6.90m - there was no sign of what was to follow as she prepared for round four.
But there it was, a soaring leap and the scoreboard showing 7.07m. “I am over the moon,” said Mihambo. “It was time to get this jump out finally. This is only the beginning of the season so I can hope for a good season.”
With the IAAF World Championships not taking place until late September, it is all about timing. Mihambo added: “The peaks will be in August and October and I hope to be able keep the level or improve it.”
Bukowiecki breaks European U23 outdoor shot put record
He may not have had the best of winters but Poland’s shot put star Konrad Bukowiecki showed his class with a memorable performance.
By reaching a distance of 21.97m in the fifth round, it not only brought him victory but the effort was an outdoor personal best and a meeting record as well as a European U23 outdoor record.
His previous lifetime best of 21.70m was now consigned to history along with the old meeting best distance of 21.67m held by the 2009 world champion Christian Cantwell from 2010.
Bukowiecki duly beat US athlete Darrell Hill (21.71m) and Brazil’s Darlan Romani (21.68m). His distance also broke the European outdoor U23 record mark of 21.86m held by Germany’s David Storl, although Bukowiecki had already surpassed it indoors with 22.00m.
Three-time European bronze medallist Angelica Bengtsson from Sweden vaulted to one of the best results of her career as she broke her own Swedish outdoor record for victory over all of the world’s best pole vaulters.
Bengtsson won with 4.76m, beating her old mark by three centimetres, and in the process defeating a field which included Greece’s Olympic champion Ekaterini Stefanidi - who was fifth on countback with 4.66m - and world indoor champion Sandi Morris from the United States who also cleared 4.66m.
Bengtsson, whose mark is a European outdoor lead, said: “The field was like being at the World Championships and I really did not expect such strong rivals. I hope today was the first step to becoming more confident.”
Fast times on the track for Asher-Smith, Muir and Shubenkov
Treble European champion Dina Asher-Smith tested the waters over 100m for the first time this summer and came out with a European lead, finishing second to Jamaica’s double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson.
Asher-Smith has been unbeatable over the 200m and the Brit had much to take from this run, finishing second in 10.94 with Thompson - who was a distant second to Asher-Smith over 200m in Stockholm on 30 May - first in 10.89.
“The race wasn’t what I expected and I had a really fast start which is really good,” said Asher-Smith. “Opening the season with sub-11 seconds isn’t bad at all, especially when I am feeling a little rusty.”
Teammate and fellow European champion Laura Muir also looked superb as she finished second in the 1500m in the second quickest time of her career.
As Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba won in a world lead of 3:56.28, Muir followed her home in a European lead of 3:56.73.
Muir said: “It feels great as I have never done 3:56 at this time of the season. Having Dibaba in the race and trying to stay with her is extra motivation.”
Another European lead came the way of former European and world champion Sergey Shubenkov as he won the 110m hurdles in fine style.
He remains one of finest sprint hurdlers in the world and proved that by winning in 13.26 from Great Britain’s world indoor champion Andrew Pozzi, second in 13.29, with South African Antonio Alkana third in 13.30m.
Such of the demands he sets himself, Shubenkov said: “It was a big pleasure to win but my result could be a bit faster.”