European Athletics Championships 2014 – Day 5

Oh no, only one day left! The good thing is that the last day was as great as it can probably be, and hopefully today will be the same.

Hammer Throw Men Final

The evening session started with a great Hammer competition. The favorites were probably Pars and Fajdek, who surprised everyone last year at the world championships, when he won the gold ahead of Pars.

Pars had a great series, which peaked first at his first attempt – a 82.18. Fajdek, who changed his dorky glasses from last year to a cool pair, and who looks like an XL version of Harry Potter, came close with a fifth throw of 82.05. But it wasn’t enough and he couldn’t get any further. Pars, on the other hand, came into his last throw as a champion, and unleashed a PB of 82.69! That’s a true champion! Fajdek is great, though, and he’s only 25. He can rule the field for a long time after Pars.

Third came Sergej Litvinov jr., son of legendary Sergey Litvinov. While it is clear the son will never reach his father’s heights or results, it’s still nice to see a family tradition.

Even nicer was to see Szymon Ziolkowski, the Olympic champion from Sydney (!!!) finishing fifth with a SB. Damn! Fuck you, age! Unlike Vizzoni, who still competes at the tender age of 41, but never finishes near the top, Ziolkowski can still hang in there with the young guns.

Pole Vault Men Final

I love Renaud Lavillenie. Loved him from the first time I saw him compete, which I believe was at the 2009 world championships. Even before he started winning titles (he finished 3rd then), his style was so much better than the rest of the jumpers that you simply could not be against him. He’s not very tall, but he has this great elasticity and the way he flies up, like fired from a cannon!

In addition, Renaud and I were born on the same day. The day I was born in Ulyanovsk, USSR, on September 18th, 1986, a few thousand miles away, in Barbezieux-Saint-Hilaire, France, was born a future pole vaulting legend. So that’s another reason why I’m fond of Renaud, although I didn’t discover it until later on.

Anyway, Renaud was a clear favorite for the gold. And it turned out he needed only 2 jumps to win it. Renaud cleared 5.65 on his first attempt, and then waited for all the other vaulters to fail at 5.75, before clearing 5.80 on his first try as well, and securing the gold.

After that he cleared 5.90 on his second attempt, before setting the bar at 6.01, for a new CR. However, he couldn’t clear that height, and thus finished with a 5.90 (a great result by itself) and a third successive European gold. Such a great athlete! It’s a shame he doesn’t have a world gold yet. I hope (and think) that this will change next year, though.

The silver medal was won by a Polish jumper by the name of Pawel Wojciechowski, whom I admit I didn’t know. I did know his compatriot Piotr Lisek, but Pawel? The bronze went to Jan Kudlicka.

4*100 Women Qualification

The only surprise here was the stick dropping by the German quartet. Damn, no 100m final for Verena Sailer, and now no 4*100 final as well?! WTF is this?!

The hot favorites – France and Great Britain, won their heats. The Dutch have Schippers, that’s true, but unfortunately you can’t clone her three times and field a quartet of Dafnes. I think they can challenge the Ukrainians for the bronze, and maybe threaten the silver, but I don’t think they can outperform BOTH the French and the Brits.

BTW, don’t count out the Swiss! They have a really nice quartet of their own, and with the help of the home crowd they might make a big splash as well.

4*100 Men Qualification

Unless the Brits drop the stick, the gold is theirs. Something really serious needs to happen for them to lose it. Like Chambers ending his career midway through his 100, or Dasalou proclaiming that he is too black for this shit, or Gemili pushing his kindness to a whole other level and deciding that Lemaitre deserves a gold medal and simply walking his 100.

Seriously. This kind of shit needs to happen for the Brits to finish lower than 1st.

The French are the favorites for the silver, but ze Germans beat them in their heat, and the Swiss set a NR in theirs and they mean business as well. And with Vicaut out? Or maybe he simply didn’t run in the heats? Who knows. Anyway, I look forward eagerly for the final tomorrow. I reckon the Brits might even break their own ER they set back in 1999 (Chaimbers was part of that team!!! Fuck you, age (2)!).

P.S. Did you catch Francis Obikwelu running the second leg for Portugal??? I saw the broadcast in Russian and the commentators didn’t mention it, but come on! He’s the European fucking record holder! 9.86! AND he came out of retirement to help his team at the age of 35! The dude is a European sprinting legend. AND Portugal did qualify for the final!

800m Women Final

At first it looked like the men’s 800. Lynsey Sharp started out very strong and separated herself from the group. However, Maryna Arzamasova stayed with her all the way. Unlike Bosse, though, they did manage to maintain the fast pace throughout the whole 800. Arzamasova played it very clever, and stayed behind Sharp until it was time to go in for the kill, which she did. Sharp didn’t have an answer for Maryna, but at least she manage to finish second, which is something Bosse couldn’t do.

The time? A nice one, 1:58.15. In fact, 4 of the 8 participants set a PB in the race, including Arzamasova.

Behind the leaders, a fierce battle was going on for the bronze medal. Katya Poistogova surged forward way too late, but she nearly caught the Pole Jozwik at the finish line. Nearly. In the end it’s gold for Arzamosova, silver for Sharp, and bronze for Jozwik.

4*400 Women Qualification

What can you say about the pretty predictable heats? Not much. The finals will be different, though.

All the favorites came through. Russia, Great Britain, Ukraine and France will battle for the three medals.

Some fun facts from the qualifying rounds: Did you see who ran the second leg for France? Muriel Hurtis! The bronze medalist in the 200 from the 2003 world championships! I remembered her as a quality sprinter, but here she is, running the 400 at the age of 35. Fuck you, age (3)!

Did you see Victoria Ohuruogu running for Great Britain? Apparently Christine has a talented younger sister. She is nowhere near her older sibling right now, but then again, she is only 21.

And of course Olivia Borlee running one of Belgium’s legs. I am really fond of the Borlees.

Ok Michael, cut the bullshit, who will win the gold??? I’m going with the Russians. They have an amazing depth even without some of their best runners.

Triple Jump Women Final

This was a good one! I betted on Koneva, but I had no idea that Saladukha will choose this particular moment to produce her best jumps of the year!

She started slow, with a mere 14.12, but after that she produced one of her very best jumping series: 14.73, 14.68, a foul, 14.59, 14.63. Just a reminder: she came into the championships with a SB of 14.20! Talk about peaking at the right moment…

Koneva wasn’t as good or as consistent as Olha, and had to settle for second place once again, after the worlds last year. Her best jump was 14.69, a good result, but she jumped 20cm further earlier this year… I feel that this is a disappointment. But hey, Saladukha was great and she is a deserving champion!

Third place went to another Russian, Irina Gumenyuk, who jumped a SB of 14.46.

All in all, a good competition and some good results.

Discus Women Final

A one woman show, that’s what it was. When Perkovic is healthy, she is like Valerie Adams – she’s in a world of her own in terms of results, and her favorite tune is probably MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This”. I haven’t seen her lose a competition when she is healthy for several years now. True, she lost one diamond league meet this year, but that was back when she had back problems, which impeded her performance.

But now? Oh boy, we were in for a treat! First throw – 64.58, and already first place.

Second throw – 67.37. Third throw – 68.78. The fourth one was a foul. Fifth throw – BOOM! 71.08!!! I take back what I wrote about Wlodarczyk’s result being the best performance of the championship. THIS IS THE LONGEST THROW IN THE WORLD SINCE 1992!!! I repeat – no other woman threw the discus further in the last 22 years! And we all know the nature of those amazing results from the 80’s… No wonder no one can repeat them now.

An easy gold for Sandra, with an amazing performance. And she’s so likable, too! She probably took some dancing lessons from Vlasic.

Robert-Michon, one of the leading throwers outside of Planet Perkovic, took the silver, almost 6 meters behind Sandra. Shanice Craft, who is of lesser fame, took third place.

4*400 Men Qualification

Here we had some drama. The Ukrainians were DQ’d due to obstructing the Dutch runners during one of the exchanges and causing them to drop the bass. Or the stick, don’t remember which one.

The Dutch were then given an opportunity to run on their own and try to set a time that would make them qualify for the final. They failed.

Other than that, no real surprises. The Brits are in, and so are the French and the Russians, although the Russians’ time was not as good.

Frankly, I was surprised to see Belgium running so badly that they only qualified as one of the fastest losers. True, they only run one Borlee, but still… These championships are not one of Borlees’ best, let’s hope they can make amends in the final, because if they are healthy I’m betting on the Belgians.

400m Hurdles Women Final

An interesting final that might have been even better if all the great names would have competed. My guess was almost correct – Child finished first and Titimets (with a PB) second, but Rosolova came only fourth, when Irina Davydova managed to pipe her for the bronze medal.

Nevertheless, Rosolova, a.k.a. mini-Hejnova, should take home some kind of award due to her sporting some of the best tattoos in the championships. The butterfly is particularly awesome.

5000m Women Final

I predicted a win for Hassan, but she couldn’t make it a double. The race was really slow and several laps of 80 seconds caused me to really hate it and to almost gauge my eyes out, but fortunately the finish was dramatic enough.

Hassan battled with Bahta the Swede for the gold. I was sure that Hassan would sprint for the win because I was really impressed with her performance in the 1500, but Bahta decided to avenge Aregawi, and didn’t surrender. Bahta led during the final lap, when Hassan went in for the kill. Hassan increased her speed, overcame every other runner, and even Bahta for a short time. But then Bahta pressed the NOS button and retained first place, which she maintained until the finish line.

This is pretty amazing, because the runner who is gaining ground on the leader usually has the advantage, and it’s rare to see a runner who was overtaken regain the lead. So Bahta – you’re something special, you. I wasn’t familiar with that runner until now, but I will be following her from now own.

Bahta finishes with a gold and a silver, not bad at all. Jo Pavey, who shook the world (or at least me) when she won the 10,000 at 40 years old, finished only 7th. The bronze went to another Dutch – Susan Kuijken, who is actually really cute.

Ok, so now it ends. The post, I mean. The championships have one more day left, with some of the most interesting events still waiting to crown the winner.

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