The Weekend Watch

The Weekend Watch
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Poland’s Pawel Wojciechowski has returned to competition, winning in fine fashion after two years out of the sport.

It was a busy weekend for pole vaulting, both in France and for a Frenchman more than 5,000 miles away from home.

And if Renaud Lavillenie was keeping a close eye on what was happening in his home country, he would have heard about the return of a rival who could play a big part in the indoor season ahead.

Orleans was the venue for the Perche Elite Tour and victory at the fourth meeting of the French pole vault series went to a forgotten man – Poland’s Pawel Wojciechowski who is back after two years out of the sport.

Wojciechowski, who won gold at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu in 2011 as Lavillenie took bronze, went over at an impressive 5.76m to win with the fifth best clearance of his career.

He then eyed a Polish record but failed at 5.78m before also missing out at 6m, yet it was a performance which puts him in contention for a medal at home in March when Sopot stages the IAAF World Indoor Championships.

Wojciechowski beat China’s Xue Changrui, who was second with 5.70m, ahead of Edi Maia, whose 5.70m was a Portuguese indoor record.

His winning mark was one centimetre more than Olympic and European champion Lavillenie achieved at the Pole Vault Summit meeting at the Reno Livestock Center in Nevada in the USA. He attempted more but said he was “happy with the victory but wanted to clear 5.85m.”

In Leverkusen, meanwhile, Silke Spiegelburg, the IAAF Diamond League winner, opened her winter programme in the best possible way with 4.71m – the highest vault in the world this year.

Back in France, Nantes staged its first international meeting at their new indoor hall and Cindy Billaud, who was seventh in the 100m hurdles at the World Championships in Moscow, ran a personal best of 7.96 - the first sub 8-second performance of 2014  - to win the 60m hurdles.

Latvia’s Laura Ikauniece, the European heptathlon bronze medallist, ran a 60m hurdles best of 8.38 at home in Kuldiga to win at the European Athletics’ Permit circuit meeting while in Lodz, Mateusz Borkowski, 17, broke the Polish youth 1000m record with a time of 2:28.42.

German David Storl, who retained his shot put world title in Moscow, triumphed in Sassnitz with 21.04m and Christina Schwanitz equaled her indoor personal best in 19.79 and set a new world lead. This was also the case for Garfield Darrien who clocked world lead 7.62 in the 60m hurdles in Lyon.

In Novi Sad, Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic started her season with a long jump of 6.68m and also won the 60m in 7.43.

The Czech Republic’s 400m runner Denisa Rosolova, a major hope for medals at next year’s European Indoor Championships in Prague, seems to be in good form this season after running two fast times in the city at the open meet in Strahov Hall.

She achieved a personal best of 17.17 in the 150m and in the 300m; her time of 37.34 was her fastest for three years. 

At North of England Championships talented combined events athlete, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, began her season with 7.50 (60m), 8.40 (60 m hurdles) and 12.49 (shot-put) plus a 6.34m (long jump).

Strong 200m from last year's European under-23 champion Karol Zalewski with an indoor personal best 21.17.


Wednesday - 12th International Indoor Meeting, Springer-meeting (Cottbus); Nikolay Ozolin and Vladimir Dyachkov Memorial (Moscow).

Friday – Hungarian Indoor Grand Prix (Budapest).

Saturday – British Athletics International (Glasgow); Gubernator Cup (Volgograd); Indoor Meeting Olympic Hopes 2014 (Bratislava).

Sunday - 82nd Cinque Mulini (San Vittore Olona); Elan Indoor Meeting (Bratislava); Lotto Cross Cup de la Province (Hannut); Moscow Cup - High Jump.

Monday - Czech High Jump Grand Prix (Ostrava).