European Indoor Champs — Day 2 Report

Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk came through with a world-leading 22-8½ in the last round to win a thrilling back-and-forth long jump competition. (JEAN-PIERRE DURAND)

TORUŃ, POLAND, March 06 — Saturday’s 6 finals at the European Indoor Championships produced a pair of yearly world leaders, one per sex. Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs produced the year’s fastest 60 (6.47) and Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk of Ukraine raised the women’s long jump best to 22-8½ (6.92).

The Saturday finals:

Men’s 60

It has been a year chock-full of PRs for 26-year-old Lamont Marcell Jacobs, who began the campaign with a best of 6.63 set last year. He opened ’21 with a new low of 6.56, then in successive races churned out clockings of 6.55, 6.54 & 6.54. Subsequently he ran a 6.53, but nothing prepared him (or us) for his runaway 6.47 Italian Record win here.

“It’s amazing, a dream come true!” he exclaimed. “In training I was very fast, but I wasn’t expecting to run 6.47. It’s a new PB, national record, I’m just in shock.”

His 0.156 was one of the slower reaction times, but he was clearly in the lead in the first 10m and just pulled away from there.

Medals: 1. Lamont Marcell Jacobs (Italy) 6.47 (WL); 2. Kevin Kranz (Germany) 6.60; 3. Ján Volko (Slovakia) 6.61.

Men’s 400

The Dutch pair of Jochem Dobber (5) and Tony van Diepen (6) had the advantage of the two outer lanes, but just inside them Spain’s Óscar Husillos had other ideas, pushing strongly from the get-go and having a solid stride’s lead halfway around the track (11.14). The ’19 runner-up, his 21.32 for the first 200 found him solidly ahead of Dobber (21.45) and van Diepen (21.55) with the third Netherlander, the delightfully named Liemarvin Bonevacia (21.57), in close attendance.

Husillos maintained through the third 100 (32.83) with Bonevacia (32.98) and van Diepen (33.16) still holding down the other two podium spots. The leader gave ground to both the Dutch runners in the last half-lap, but his 46.22 just held off van Diepen (46.25) and Bonevacia (46.30).

Said the 27-year-old winner, “This reminds me of the World Indoors when I lost the gold [after a lane dq] but I came here today and won. I suffered a lot but it paid off.”

Medals: 1. Óscar Husillos (Spain) 46.22; 2. Tony van Diepen (Netherlands) 46.25; 3. Liemarvin Bonevacia (Netherlands) 46.30.

Women’s 400

Despite having the lane 6 advantage, Femke Bol was slow to get up and running, sitting in last after the first half-lap. The just-turned-21 Dutch favorite was still in 3rd (23.87) at the 200 point, trailing tall teammate Lieke Klaver (23.70) and Briton Jodie Williams (23.73). But then she began to unwind and had a solid lead at the 300 point (36.69 to Klaver’s 36.93). Clearly the strongest in the stretch, she pulled away to a PR 50.63 win.

“I’m happy with the execution of the race,” she said. “I wanted to open faster than in earlier races, because I knew there were some fast openers and I didn’t want to remain too far back. They were still ahead of me after 200, but in the end it worked out.”

Just 5th at halfway (24.08), Poland’s Justyna Święty-Ersetic moved up to 3rd at the 300 and both she (51.41) and Williams (51.73 PR) pulled by the fading Klaver to fill out the podium.

Medals: 1 Femke Bol (Netherlands) 50.63 NR; 2. Justyna Święty-Ersetic (Poland) 51.41; 3. Jodie Williams (Great Britain) 51.73 PR.

Women’s 1500

Marta Pérez did most of the early pace work, with fellow Spaniard Esther Guerrero also taking several turns at the front. Meanwhile, the race’s fastest entrant, Elise Vanderelst, languished near the back of the 9-woman field, being only 7th at the kilo mark. But in the next half lap she surged up to 2nd behind Guerrero, moving to the fore with 2 laps to go and pulling away to a pedestrian 4:18.44 win as Guerrero faded badly in the last 100.

“I still don’t believe it,” said the 23-year-old Belgian, who ran her last lap in 30.18, compared to Guerrero’s 32.44. “I ran the dream final.” Of her late-race move she said, “I went directly to the inside lane. I had a lot of energy left, so I pushed.”

Holly Archer of Great Britain crossed the line in silver position with her 4:19.91, with fast-closing Hanna Klein of Germany (4:20.07) and Pérez (4:20.39) in close attendance. The Briton was ultimately DQed for some late-race jostling, but an appeal was successful.

Medals: 1. Elise Vanderelst (Belgium) 4:18.44; 2. Holly Archer (Great Britain) 4:19.91; 3. Hanna Klein (Germany) 4:20.07.

Women’s Pole Vault

“I am really happy, really very happy. I have not yet realized it, perhaps tomorrow with the gold medal around my neck,” said Angelica Moser after picking off the top spot. The 23-year-old Swiss did it the hard way, needing 2 tries at 14-7¼ (4.45) and all 3 at both 15-1 (4.60) and indoor PR-equaling 15-3 (4.65). So when the bar was raised to a lifetime high of 15-5 (4.70) she was only in 5th.

Iryna Zhuk of Belarus and favored Briton Holly Bradshaw shared the lead with perfect records but both surprisingly failed. Moser was joined as a first-time maker with Tina Šutej, the Slovenian being ahead on misses. But while 15-5 was too much for Šutej, Moser slid over on her second try for the win.

Summing up the realities of life in a pandemic world, Moser concluded, “Well now I have to do a COVID test and then go back to the hotel.”

Medals: 1. Angelica Moser (Switzerland) 15-7 (4.75) PR; 2. Tina Šutej (Slovenia) 15-5 (4.70); =3. Holly Bradshaw (Great Britain) 15-3 (4.65), =3. Iryna Zhuk (Belarus) 15-3 (4.65)

Women’s Long Jump

Malaika Mihambo and Larissa Iapichino staged a wonderful back-and-forth in the early going. Iapichino, recent claimant of the World Junior Indoor Record, opened at 21-7½ (6.59) as the fourth of 8 jumpers, with Germany’s reigning world champion adding a centimeter onto that (21-8/6.60) as the sixth. In the second round the young Italian backed up her opening leap with a 21-6¼ (6.56), only to have Mihambo match that two jumpers later to hold the lead on the countback. Iapichino didn’t improve after that and ended up 5th.

Leading off the third stanza, Belarus’s Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova took the lead at 22-¾ (6.72), but the very next jumper, Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk improved the day’s best to 22-3¾ (6.80). And as the third jumper, Swede Khaddi Sagnia moved into 2nd at 22-1¾ (6.75). Mihambo responded well, producing a seasonal best 22-7 (6.88) to reclaim the lead.

Bekh-Romanchuk kept the pressure on in the fifth round, her 22-6¼ (6.86) leaving her just 2cm behind Mihambo. B-M raised the ante as the penultimate jumper, shrieking with joy as she upped the yearly world lead to 22-8½ (6.92). Mihambo barely touched the board on the competition’s last jump, reaching only 22-3 (6.78).

Said the winner, 25, “It was a perfect evening, I am very happy. I couldn’t imagine a better competition. Before my last jump, I was very focused, I knew I was well-prepared and despite the short indoor season, I achieved a fantastic result.”

Medals: 1. Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (Ukraine) 22-8½ (6.92) (WL); 2. Malaika Mihambo (Germany) 22-6¼ (6.86); 3. Khaddi Sagnia (Sweden) 22-1¾ (6.75).

There will be another 14 finals on Sunday. □

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