European Athletics Championships 2014 – Day 3

The third day of the championships was probably the most exciting one yet. It was destined to be the day of the French, and it was in many ways, but it took several unexpected turns.

Javelin Men Qualification

Andreas Thorkildsen, the greatest javelin thrower since Jelezny, didn’t enter the competition. He was in a really bad form this whole year, so it makes sense. But still one feels sad for his career in the last couple of years. Did we see the end of this great throwers, probably one of the top 3 of all-time? He’s still young for the javelin, a mere 32 years old, the same age as Pitkamaki who still throws at the highest levels.

There was a very big difference between the 2 qualification groups. While not a single thrower met the automatic qualification mark in the first group, 4 throwers did it in the second.

Among those who impressed the most were the two Finns – Ruuskanen and Tero, who will be joined by a third compatriot, the lesser-known Lassi Etelatalo. Vesely made the final as well, despite throwing only 80.00, and so did Tarabin and the two Germans who bursted onto the scene this year – Rohler and Hoffman.

Who will win? I hope Tero. I always loved this thrower and his style, but he was always an underachiever and overshadowed by the great Thorkildsen. I hope he wins this time, although it won’t be easy.

400m Hurdles Women Semi-Finals

A few years ago this was a great event. There were so many good runners, especially from ex-Soviet states. Now? Hejnova, who had a phenomenal last season is not competing, Antyukh? Who knows what happened to her…

The Brit Child and the Ukranian Titimets are the favorites, but maybe mini-Hejnova, the Czech Rosolova, can upset them? Apart from these 3 I don’t see anyone who might threaten the gold medal.

800m Women Semi-Finals

Here we have some good quality. Two Brits and two Russians qualified for the finals. Katya Poistogova was my favorite before the start of the championship, but now I’m not sure. Arzamasova looked good, and so did Lynsey Sharp.

P.S. – Why the hell Jessica Judd runs in those manly trousers?! She looks a bit ridiculous in them. And she has this suffering look on her face when she runs, especially during the latter stages. I hope she won’t win! I really disliked Paula Radcliffe’s style back then, even though she was an awesome runner, and Judd’s style reminds me too much of her…

110m Hurdles Men Semi-Finals and Final

Wow!

Now let’s start from the beginning. I was sure that Pascal would win, and his semi did nothing to change my mind. He was simply in a league of his own, coming into his element early in the race, and cruising to a good 13.17 with slowing down in the last 10 meters and spreading his arms in a “look at me, I’m the fucking king!” pose. It was awesome, an young-Bolt-like, and you were probably a madman not to bet on him in the final.

I was absolutely sure the gold medal is decided, and was only hoping that Shubenkov would win the silver.

I think that Pascal thought so too. I think he was over-confident, and it hurt him. He started badly, hitting every hurdle and knocking down many of them, and then he panicked and started doing even more errors. I was shocked to watch the race unfolds this way. Eventually he almost tumbled over some hurdle, and that was the end of his gold medal hopes.

But even more than that! He finished 4th! I will repeat that – Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, the best hurdler in the world this year, finished fucking 4th! WOW!

Shubenkov ran a very good race that was almost error-free, and managed to win. This is his second European championship gold! Damn! You go Shubenkov! The time was not so great, a mere 13.19, but fuck the time – he’s got the gold!

Sharman won the silver, and Dimitri Bascou the bronze. But afterwards we learned that Bascou was DQ’d for obstructing, and so Pascal was promoted to bronze.

But this was the first upset in the championship, and such a major one! Damn…

Pole Vault Women Final

This competition didn’t have great quality, but it did have some major drama.

We had three Russian vaulters, each one prettier than the next, but none of them really having Isinbayeva’s of Feofanova’s results. In fact, there was no clear favorite in this final, because of the similarity betwen the PB’s and SB’s of the vaulters.

Nevertheless, it was a disappointment when Svobodova couldn’t vault higher than 4.45, and finished in 6th place. Angelica Bengtsson, a former major promise, also had trouble with that height, and finished 5th.

We did have a good battle between the top 4 girls. The two Russians – Sidorova and the very cute (but always sad) Zhuk-Krasnova, Lisa Ryzih (EL), and Stefanidi from Greece, who emerged this year as the best Greek jumper and overtook Kiriakopoulou. All four passed 4.60, but had trouble with 4.65. Stefanidi led, with Zhuk-Krasnova in 2nd place, and Ryzih in 3rd. They all failed 3 times at 4.65. Sidorova was lying in 4th place, but she nailed her 3rd attempt at 4.65 like a true champ, and won the title! You go Sidorova!

Stefanidi and Zhuk-Krasnova were still happy (the Russian even squeezed a smile!), but Ryzih was devastated, which is quite understandable.

A great competiton, and kudos for Sidorova for her nerves of steel!

200m Women – Semifinals

I have a déjà-vu… Pretty much the same names that participated in the 100m. Schippers is the favorite here as well. This 22 year old Dutch’s form is amazing, and she won her semi by a mile with a very comfortable 22.48, while easing on the last 20m. I say she can run a 22.20 if the conditions are good.

Soumare and Jodie Williams will probably fight for the silver. And congratulations for Kambundji, the young Swiss did it again – a new NUR, and a place in the final! I only sorry for Ivet Lalova who couldn’t make it there…

Dafne for the gold!

Heptathlon Women

Hmmm Don’t really know what to write about it. Even worse than the men’s decathlon, I find it hard to relate to the heptathlon this time. Kluft is long gone, I get it, but no Ennis and Dobrinskaya, and no Melnychenko and Schippers (which is excellent, cuz we gained a world-class sprinter). Damn it, how can we follow the event if you keep changing the main competitors?!

Well, I do know Thiam and she jumped an amazing 1.97m in the morning session. She was leading after the first day, but she was only 6 points ahead of Carolin Schafer, and 10 points ahed of Broersen. My personal favorite before the start of the competition – Nana-Djimou, the reigning champ, was lying in 4th place after the conclusion of the first day.

P.S. – If I was to compile a top 10 of the prettiest female athletes, many would come from the heptathlon. Grit Sadeiko, Mari Klaup, Ida Marcussen… and in the past we had Kluft, Schippers, Ennis, Kelly Sotherton, Louise Hazel… Well, the high-jumpers can give them a run for their money, but this is a tough call! 🙂

Triple Jump Men Final

An event that had potential, but it effectively ended after round 1, when Benjamin Compaore killed the competition with a 17.46 leap. A very good result in European standards, but a mediocre one if you consider Will Claye and Christian Taylor, and obviously Tamgho, who is still injured.

Maybe if Luke Adams was healthy he might have offered a battle, but his injury was apparent, especially in the second jump, when he didn’t extend the leg as triple jumpers normally do. Nevertheless he managed a 17.09 and a silver medal, while another Russian – Fyodorov, won the bronze with a 17.04.

A fun fact – Marian Oprea, who always looked like a gypsy, was 5th. I first heard of Oprea at the 2004 olympics, when he took the silver medal, but he’s still with us and still competing, 10 years after.

Damn, I miss Tamgho.

200m Men Semi-Finals

Here I hope Lemaitre wins the gold. He’s the favorite, but he didn’t have an easy time in his semi, and he struggled a bit before winning it. Adam Gemili looked great, though, and I wonder if he can upset the French.

I was glad Ramil Guliyev qualified for the final. I remember him representing Uzbekistan and running an astonishing 20.04 a few years back. Now he’s representing Turkey and sporting a kick-ass sleeve tattoo on one hand and some great tattoos on his other hand. He managed a 20.38 in the semi. Can he squeeze into the medals? Probably not, but he’s fun to watch.

My money is on Christophe, with Gemili a close second.

Javelin Women Final

Didn’t we all miss Spotakova? Of course we did, what a dumb question. Martina Ratej ruled the diamond league circuit until Spotakova showed up and showed her who’s the boss.

When Spotakova competes, it’s foolish to bet against her. The only one who can upset her is Masha Abakumova, and she is busy with other stuff on her mind right now.

Nevertheless, it was a close contest. Tatjana Jelaca shocked us with a NR of 64.21, but Spotakova threw the javelin 20cm further, for the gold. Linda Stahl, always around, rounded up the medalists with a 63.91.

Ratej? Only 6th, only 61.58. WTF happened to her?! She looked very good on the diamond circuit, how come she performed so badly here?!

Well, Jelezny can be proud with at least one of his pupils. Barbora made it, will Vesely make it 2/2 for the Czechs?

3000m Steeplechase Men Final

This was a controversial one.

It was known from the beginning that Mekhissi-Benabbad will win it. Why are they running at all? Jesus, this is so obvious! Even more than Pascal in the hurdles! Oops…

I love Mekhissi. He’s a really great runner, and always manages to win medals at global competitions. He’s pretty much the only one who breaks the Kenyan hegemony at this event. True, he’s a very controversial figure, and had many incidents in the past, but he’s such a great runner… And probably the most colorful one in the event, together with Ezekiel Kemboi.

Anyway, all went according to the plan here. Mekhissi was leading during the final 400m, and had such a huge advantage that he decided to take his shirt off on the final straight, and run with it in his hands (and mouth), while also making gestures for the crowd with his hands. He ran shirtless the last 70m, and his victory was never in danger. It was perhaps an uncommon sight, but I didn’t see anything bad with it. He was simply enjoying the win and adding some color to the event.

He did receive a yellow card at the end. But what does that mean? should the coach take him out after the first 1500m in his next race in order to save him for the final? A really stupid thing.

So he was celebrating, while behind him another Frenchman – Yoann Kowal, won the silver, and the Pole Zalewski won the bronze.

However, the Spaniards appealed and Mekhissi was stripped of his title due to an inappropriate behavior. Kowal was promoted to gold, Zalewski to silver, and the Spaniard Mullera to the bronze.

My opinion? It’s a shame they did this. Obviously Mekhissi went a bit over the edge with his antics, but come on – if he knew that this will cost him the title, he wouldn’t have done it. He won fair and square, and no one was near him. It was his third European triumph in a row. He’s obviously the best. It’s not like Bolt’s DQ in 2011, when he knew that he was out. Mekhissi celebrated a bit too much. So? Jesus, give him a bloody warning, tell him that he shouldn’t do this again unless he wants to be DQ’d. Don’t DQ him right away…

And so ended the 3rd day. It was a very successful day for the French, but they are still ending it with a bitter taste, since it might have been even more successful.

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