European Athletics Championships 2014 – Day 6

Well, it’s over now. A very good championship it was, certainly better than the 2012 edition. But no time for summaries yet, there are still the events of the last day that we need to cover!

Shot Put Women Final

It’s strange to watch a shot put competition without the greatest female athlete of the last decade – Valerie Adams. Maybe we can make an exception and let her compete just for kicks? No? Okay L…

Anyway, without her majesty Valerie, Christina Schwanitz was the clear favorite. I was actually a bit surprised when I checked and saw that she never was even a medalist in the European championships yet! This has got to be her competition, I thought to myself. And it turned out it was.

Schwanitz had four marks that were better than the best mark of second place Kolodko. So yes, Christina is the worthy European champion. Kolodko knew better days in the past when she putted beyond 20m, but this year has not been a great one for her. And still, she did set her SB in her last attempt, when she already guaranteed herself the silver medal. Good job, Yevgeniya!

An even better job was done by Anita Marton. I didn’t know her before the championships, but she was awesome in the final, setting two PB’s and winning the bronze with a 19.04 effort.

But boy do I miss the diamond league to watch Valerie!

1500m Men Final

A very interesting affair. A lot of tumbles, one DNF, and one very happy European champion. I hate to see people falling during a race, and my heart skips a beat for those poor runners who have to watch their dreams of a medal shatter, and maybe I’m an awful person for saying that, but I’m really glad that at least the favorites weren’t among those who fell.

Up until the final 400m, it was anyone’s race. I was really hoping Mekhissi would win a medal after the whole 3000m steeplechase thing, but I thought that with Ingebrigsten’s awesome form he can’t really threaten the gold medal.

Little did I know…

Mekhissi surged forward at the 1100m mark, and really, it was like watching some Hollywood movie, when the fallen hero redeems himself. He went so far ahead that no one really had a chance of catching him. I was so amazed with his performance that I actually yelled “look what he’s doing!!!”. Mekhissi was awesome. It really was a “fuck you! You took my gold medal? I will have another one!” performance. Down the home straight, with a handy advantage, he started gesturing the crowd with his hands, but thankfully he didn’t take his shirt off this time. The 0.50 seconds margin between him and the second place is really deceiving, it was HIS race the same way the 3000m steeplechase was HIS race. I was really glad that he managed to win gold, but then again – this might have been his second gold of the championship… And still, how many crowd-pleasers like him we have these days? Mekhissi is the man.

Ingebrigsten, the defending European champion, took the silver from the Brit O’Hare in the last few meters.  I believe it was his mistake to let the race go on such an unimpressive pace. He could have pushed it to a faster pace, when he would have had more chances at the gold, but he didn’t.

High Jump Women Final

No Vlasic, no Chicherova and no Shkolina. Damn.

I had two favorites in the competition – Emma Green, the jumper who was once deemed to be the heir to the great Kajsa Bergkvist (probably my favorite track & field athlete of all-time. She deserves a post of her own), but didn’t fulfill the expectations. My second favorite was Ana Simic, a.k.a. mini-Vlasic, who had a very good year so far on the diamond league circuit.

I really wanted one of them to win, but I was ready to do a Dr. Faustus and sign a deal with the devil – ok, neither of them wins, but so does Ruth Beitia. I can’t describe enough how much I don’t like her jumping style. I think the only jumper whose style I disliked more was Hestrie Cloete with her flailing arms, and it’s a real close one.

Seriously, how can you cheer for Beitia?! First of all, she has those stupid sunglasses. I bet they are really helpful. Second of all, what the hell is that leaning tower of Pisa she does right before the jump?! And to make things worse, she is really good. And she keeps performing at the highest level well into her 30’s.

Green jumped badly, and she went out at 1.94. At 1.99 we had four jumpers left. Kuchina, Simic (hurray!) and the Pole Kasprzycka passed that height on their first try. When Beitia failed to pass at her first try, I cheered, because it meant that she was lying at fourth place at the moment. But then Beitia cleared the height on her second try, and I thought “Shit, this is over”. The next height was 2.01, and Ruth was the only one in this group who jumped this height before.

And sure enough, Beitia passed 2.01 on her first try and it was all over. The devil didn’t keep his part of the deal. Jesus, who can you rely on these days?! A second European title for Beitia, who really found her mojo in the second part of her career. What can you say, she’s a true champ.

The silver medal went to Kuchina, who is really having a good season. The depth the Russians have in the high jump (both men and women!) is simply astonishing.

Simic won the bronze medal, so this is a little consolation. She set a PB in the process, of 1.99. Hopefully this is the first medal of many to follow.

4*400m Women Final

The Brits didn’t put Ohuruogu in their quartet. Puzzling. And even more puzzling was the Russian relay team. Only Firova was a familiar name. Where were all their other great runners?! Nevertheless they started out strong, and at the 1200m mark they were in the lead, with GBR second.

However, Ukraine’s last runner was the amazing Zemlyak, the silver 400m medalist, mind you! She had an awesome 400, passed everyone, and I was sure she will bring the Ukrainians the gold. But, she really slowed down in the last few meters, allowing France and GBR to come closer. All three finished at almost the same time, but the French were first, 0.05 of a second ahead of the Ukrainians, thanks to a really great split of 49.71 seconds by their last runner – Floria Guei, the fastest split in the final, by far! And so Muriel Hurtis won a gold medal at 35 years. Damn!

Zemlyak managed to keep the silver medal for Ukraine, 0.02 seconds ahead of GBR. One can’t help but think that this might have been very different if Ohuruogu was running… And if the Russians (who finished 4th) were fielding their strongest runners.

4*400m Men Final

It was clear from the start that GBR are the favorites, with 3 runners in the top 5 of the individual 400m. And with Belgium having only one Borlee in the final. Nevertheless it wasn’t easy, and Martyn Rooney had to really sweat in the final 400 to pass the Russians. But Rooney is a great runner, and of course he managed to do that. Gold for team GB, and second gold for Rooney.

The Russians came second, and the Poles third. Kevin Borlee ran the fastest split in the final, an astonishing 43.6, and he singlehandedly brought Belgium from 8th to 3rd place after 800m, but one Borlee is not enough, and so Belgium finished a disappointing 7th.

Long Jump Men Final

I was really hoping to see a battle between Rutherford and Tsatoumas, but the olympic champion was too strong this time. He had several good jumps, and won easily with a 8.29.

Tsatoumas’s best jump? A mere 8.15. Jesus! He jumped better at the qualifiers! I’m really starting to think that his 8.66 PB is a mistake and that someone wrote it as a joke a few years back, and it simply stayed this way without anyone realizing it.

Some unknown Frenchman – Kafeiten Gomis, finished third with a 8.14 effort. Gaisah? 8.08. Reif? 7.95.

A really disappointing event. The results are mediocre at best, and no real drama…

3000m Steeplechase Women Final

Meh.

I really didn’t enjoy this one. No European woman runner is amongst the world’s top in this event, and there were no familiar names here. And the results were no so good, either (9:29.43 for the winner). I really couldn’t get myself excited over this.

The German Antje Moldner-Schmidt won over the favorite, Charlotta Fougberg from Sweden. Third place went to Diana Martin.

Boy do I miss Gulnara Samitova-Galkina…

Javelin Men Final

This, on the other hand, was a great event!

The Finns proved that they are in great shape. Ruuskanen especially. After being the top dog at the qualifications, he maintained his status in the final. He had a great serie of throws, with the shortest one measured at 83.67. On his third throw he threw a massive 88.01, the EL this year. It was clear that no one could catch him.

The Finns all have a similar throwing style, when they fall forward after they release the javelin. But no one does it more gracefully and smoothly than Tero Pitkamaki. Tero had a decent serie of his own, peaking at 84.40. The third Finn, who was a relative unknown, used the same throwing style, and at one point overthrew Vesely from the top 3 with a 83.16 throw. 1-2-3 Finland!

Vesely knew that he had to do something. So he ditched the Zelezny style and went Finland all the way, falling with his throw as well. This proved to be a good decision, since it produced his biggest throw – a 84.79, and the second place.

So no 1-2-3 Finland, only 1-3-4, With Vesely claiming the silver.

Oh poor Tero! Didn’t he suffer enough?! First he was overshadowed by Thorkildsen, but now with the Norwegian gone, he still can’t win it! Tero had a great career, with many medals, but only one gold at a major championship (2007 worlds).

5000m Men Final

Another classic Mo race. Ctrl+C the 10,000 and Ctrl+V to the 5,000.

Once again he lurked near the top for all bur the last lap, and then surged forward in the last 400. And once again he shaked off everyone but one runner. This time it was Hayle Ibrahimov who stayed close with him. But once again Mo showed that he had the DNA of a true champ, and ran away in the final 150m. A second gold for Mo, who is now a five time European champion!

Ibrahimov won the silver, but uncle Vernon was the big story after Mo, winning his second medal at the championships! A bronze this time.

The time? Over 14 minutes. If the runners were looking to make it easier for Mo to win, they couldn’t have done a better job.

4*100m Men Final

I was surprised to see the British quartet without Chambers and Dasaolu. This didn’t change my confidence in their triumph, but I thought that now they probably won’t get to break the ER.

The French were without Vicaut. Nevertheless the managed to win the bronze ahead of the Swiss, who fucked up their last exchange. A third medal for Lemaitre at these championships, and his 8th overall (!!).

Germany won the silver, but the British gold was never in doubt. Gemili ran beautifully the last 100, and won his second gold here. Good job! I really took a liking to this smiling youngster.

4*100 Women Final

Wow, what a mess of a final!

It started with Kambundji, the talented young Swiss, fumbling with – and eventually losing her baton right as she went out of the starting block. What. The. Fuck. I have never seen THAT happens before. She was devastated afterwards.

It continued with Dafne Schippers never actually getting to display her amazing speed, since the Dutch messed up their first exchange and dropped the baton.

The Brits didn’t have any problems with their exchanges, and they cruised to a comfortable win. The French came second, with Soumare claiming yet another medal (her 3rd here and 7th overall at the European championships).

The Russians surprised me and came third. I really thought the Ukrainians would be on the podium, but they finished only 5th.

 

And so it ends. A great championship, I really enjoyed watching it.

The diamond league is returning soon! Stay tuned…

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