This is the second of two parts of our alphabetical reflection on a memorable season of athletics featuring highlights from the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships, European Athletics U18 Championships and the European Mountain Running Championships in Skopje.
N is for Nelson
At 34, and a decade after last being at the top of the podium outdoors when he won the Olympic title in Beijing, Portugal’s Nelson Evora was a gold medallist again as he produced a season’s best triple jump of 17.10m in the fifth round to triumph at the European Championships. For Evora, it was proof that age means nothing.
O is for Olympic Stadium
With packed crowds and its blue track, the iconic Olympic Stadium in Berlin was a glorious venue for this summer’s European Championships. History resonated from every corner and the image of thousands watching showed it remains one of the best venues for track and field in the world.
P is for Prolific
A title which belongs to Poland’s Adam Kszczot who won his sixth European 800m title in Berlin in the summer. Already three-times a European indoor champion, he has now matched that outdoors after he made it a hat-trick of successes with victory in fine fashion in 1:44.59 from Sweden’s Andreas Kramer, who ran a national record of 1:45.03.
Q is for Day Q
The Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships programme began with a session of qualifying which was known as Day Q. The session was free to attend and allowed for a greater focus on the finals during the rest of the championships.
R is for Records
In a time of 2:05:11, Great Britain’s Mo Farah smashed the European marathon record with his first victory over the 26.2 miles in the Chicago Marathon on 7 October. Farah did lose his European 10km record to Julien Wanders who clocked 27:32 in Cape Town while Sifan Hassan set European records on the track over 5000m (14:22.34) and on the roads on her half marathon debut (65:15). Kevin Mayer smashed the world and European decathlon record on the same day in Talence.
S is for Skopje
The capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia staged a memorable European Mountain Running Championships in July. Bernard Dematteis led an Italian clean sweep as he won the men’s title for a third time from Cesare Maestri and Bernard’s brother Martin. Switzerland’s Maude Mathys was crowned women’s champion.
T is for Trailblazers
The first runner to break four minutes for the mile Roger Bannister passed away at the age of 88. Bannister ran his way into sporting history with his time of 3:59.4 on the cinder track at the Iffley Road Sports Ground on 6 May 1954. Diane Leather, who became the first woman to break five minutes for the mile just 23 days later, also passed away this year aged 85. Poland’s Irena Szewinska, the only athlete in history to set world records at 100m, 200m and 400m, also died in June aged 72.
U is for Unprecedented
It took Sandra Perkovic five throws to find anything resembling her best form but the Croatian punched her way into the record books by becoming the first athlete in history to win five European titles in the same event. Perkovic went out to 67.62m in the fifth round of the discus before announcing she was going for a sixth in Paris in two years’ time. Who would bet against her?
V is for Vicente
Maria Vicente looks destined for senior stardom after two phenomenal displays at the European U18 Championships in Gyor. Not content with only breaking the world U18 best to win the heptathlon title, Vicente then pulled out another championship record of 13.95m in the sixth round of the triple jump to double her gold medal tally.
W is for Wlodarczyk
The extraordinary success of Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk saw her win a fourth successive European hammer gold with another brilliant performance in Berlin in August, breaking the championship record with 78.94m. The extent of her dominance was shown that in second was France’s Alexandra Tavernier, who smashed the national record with 74.78m but was still more than four metres adrift of the champion.
X is for the Great Edinburgh XCountry
A brilliant way for the sport to start each year, Team Europe won this cross country event in January, a match against Great Britain & Northern Ireland and Team USA. Next month they will defend their title when the competition will be held in Stirling.
Y is for Youngest
At the age of 17, Jakob Ingebrigtsen became the youngest ever male athlete to win a gold medal in European Championships history with his wins on back-to-back nights in the 1500m and 5000m. Armand Duplantis followed suit by becoming the youngest ever field event champion in championship history with gold in the pole vault at the age of 18. Duplantis also became the youngest ever member of the six-metre plus club.
Z is for Zharnel
Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes had a fabulous 2018, winning the European 100m crown in an equal championship record of 9.95 in Berlin. He also ran the second leg of the British team that took the 4x100m title and along with France’s Jimmy Vicaut, he ends the year as joint European-leader with 9.91.