Berlin, Germany; August 07—Britain’s top sprinters closed out the first finals evening of the 24th European Championships with 100-meter performances as hot as the conditions had been throughout a day when the thermometer topped out at 95F/35C in the early afternoon.
In the women’s final—with the temperature still at 84 (29C) for the 9:30pm start—Dina Asher-Smith tore from the blocks to an instant lead and held it to the line to win in a British Record 10.85 from German Gina Lückenkemper’s late-charging 10.98 and the 10.99 of defending champion Dafne Schippers.
An 0.07 PR for the 22-year-old Asher-Smith, the mark equaled Marie-Josée Ta Lou’s world leader set at the Doha DL in May. Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji, in lane 4 to Asher-Smith’s left, chased best early but the 21-year-old Lückenkemper, who looked hopelessly buried at the start, came through with an inspired final 40m that matched her semi time. The clocking for two-time world 200 titlist Schippers, who appeared to get up to 2nd at midway before being caught just before the line, was her first sub-11 of the year.
“I’m so happy with my time,” said Asher-Smith. “I came here to be European champion, so I´m happy to have achieved that. I didn’t realize I had won until I turned around. Now, I’m going to have to deal with being the world lead but I can deal with that. Europe is definitely the place to be sprinting; these girls are fast!” The Briton also served notice she intends to defend the 200 title she won in ’16. “One race down, let’s see what happens next in the 200m,” she said.
After dashing 9.97 to win his semi, Jimmy Vicaut seemed to have the upper hand for the men’s final. When the Frenchman failed to appear at the start, however, attention shifted to long, tall Zharnel Hughes, who had dashed 9.91 in June and won his semi in 10.01. The 6-2¾ (1.90) Hughes started first among a trio of sub-10 Britons that also included Reece Prescod and C.J. Ujah.
Hughes started at a disadvantage to Italian Tortu Filippo a lane to his right for the initial steps of the race, and Jak Ali Harvey, too, was out well. At halfway, though, the favorite had the lead over Turk Harvey and hung onto it for a 0.01 margin at the finish, 9.95–9.96. Prescod, two lanes to Harvey’s right in 7 came up late for 3rd in 10.01.
“This was my main focus of the whole season and I am glad I made these fans happy as they were cheering for us a lot,” said Hughes. “This is what I really wanted and I worked for it. You know, I have had a rocky season, I got disqualified at the Commonwealth Games, so this victory is very important for me.” His time was a meet record, icing on the cake for a man known to have a sweet tooth. “It was a great day for Great Britain winning two golds and one silver in sprints,” he said. “I think it is the good way towards the Olympics if I stay healthy. Usain Bolt did what he did at this stadium [World Records at the ’09 Worlds]. I did the championships record and I am happy for that.”
A Big Day For Poland Too
Poland did Britain one better in the 1–2 department, taking gold and silver in both the men’s shot and hammer. The shot, with 6 throwing past 21m (68-10¾) was a tense battle. Michał Haratyk took the lead in round 2 with a 71-3¼ (21.72) heave. In the same round he got a scare from 21-year-old compatriot Konrad Bukowiecki, 71-¾ (21.66). In each frame, Haratyk had to watch local fave and defending champ David Storl attempt to glide-out a throw that would catch him. Didn’t happen. Storl’s 70-3 (21.41) opener was his best among just two fair throws. The German finished 3rd and Haratyk walked away with the crown.
In the hammer it was Wojciech Nowicki—heretofore a man of bronze, at the ’16 Euros, Rio Olympics and the last two World Championships—who won the day over world champ Paweł Fajdek. The former took the first round lead at 258-2 (78.69) but could not improve as the favored Nowicki hit 262-5 (80.00) in frame 2 and then 262-10 (80.12) in 3 for the win. The meet was his eighth over 80m this year, topped by his list-leading 268-6 (81.85).
In the men’s 10,000, Morad Amdouni of France waited until the last homestretch to blast away from Belgium’s Abdi Bashir for a 28:11.22–28:11.76 victory. Spain’s Adel Mechaal, front-running not for the first time, had led a good number of the 25 laps but dropped to 2nd behind Bashir (28:13.78) when the last lap began and faded to 4th (28:13.78) in the final homestretch. Amdouni, 30, turned the decisive circuit in 55.81 and last 200 in 27.42.
In the hot-weather men’s 50K walk earlier in the day, Olympic champion Matej Tóth hoped to show he was all the way back after missing last year’s World Championships. He had to skip the global title meet amid a doping investigation that ultimately found him innocent. The Slovak led the walk in the 20–30K segments, however Ukraine’s Maryan Zakalnytskyy proved too strong, took over from there and won in 3:46:32 with Tóth at 3:47:37, but declaring, “Half of my body wanted to stop but the people who supported me all the time in that difficult period helped me to get to the finish.”
Ines Henriques won the inaugural Euro women’s 50 walk in 4:09:21 from Ukraine’s Alina Tsviliy (4:12:44) and Spain’s Julia Takács (4:15:22).
Day 1 decathlon action brought disaster for world champion Kevin Mayer. Fans of the French star were talking about a 9000-pointer, or even a WR, and their excitement looked well-founded when he PRed at 10.64 in the 100… but then fouled all three of his long jump attempts to finish early and bitterly. “This is a black day for me. I do not have an excuse,” he said after eschewing a safety jump and going all-out on all three. “I am very sorry for those who expected a lot of me, for all my fans. I was in great shape. I wanted to show much more than this. This was a big mistake. I took a high risk. But I do not regret the risk. I know that many people were expecting a lot from me and it hurts to disappoint them. This is really frustrating for me. I am quite disgusted. But this is sport.”
Tuesday Medal Winners
Zharnel Hughes (Great Britain), Reece Prescod (Great Britain), Jak Ali Harvey (Turkey)
Morhad Amdouni (France), Bashir Abdi (Belgium), Yemaneberhan Crippa (Italy)
Maryan Zakalnytskyy (Ukraine), Matej Tóth (Slovakia), Dzmitry Dziubin (Belarus)
Michał Haratyk (Poland), Konrad Bukowiecki (Poland), David Storl (Germany)
Wojciech Nowicki (Poland), Paweł Fajdek (Poland), Bence Halász (Hungary)
Dina Asher-Smith (Great Britain), Gina Lückenkemper (Germany), Dafne Schippers (Netherlands)
Inês Henriques (Portugal), Alia Tsviliy (Ukraine), Julia Takács (Spain)
Finals on tap for Wednesday, when it’s supposed to be even hotter and may experience a “severe thunderstorm”: men’s long jump, discus, decathlon; women’s 10,000, shot. □