European Championships Wednesday — Gudžius Beats Ståhl In A Thriller

Andrius Gudžius came through on the last throw of the whole competition to win discus gold. (MARK SHEARMAN)

Berlin, Germany; August 08—A clash of discus titans highlighted a sizzling Wednesday at the European Championships on a day when the city reached triple digits (102F/39C). It was a mere 91 (33C) when last year’s World Championships gold and silver winners went at it again.

Andrius Gudžius threw a 215-8 (65.75) leader in round 1, then watched as Daniel Ståhl—who chased him to the top of the podium in London last year—launched a second round 223-2 (68.02). But the mark was eventually called a foul, the Swede’s toe having touched the ground in front of the ring. However, it served notice to the 27-year-old Lithuanian that he would need to throw farther to guarantee a win. He didn’t improve on his second attempt but stayed firmly in the lead as Ståhl fouled again, putting himself in a precarious position.

In round 3 Gudžius improved his leader to 220-5 (67.19). Ståhl, the last thrower in the order, advanced to the final three rounds with his 210-7 (64.23). Ståhl unleashed a fourth-round 223-10 (68.23) that vaulted him into the lead. The now-deposed Gudžius responded with 222-0 (67.66): an improvement, but not enough. Both fouled in the penultimate round. Then Ståhl fouled again and the final throw of the competition belonged to Gudžius, who saved his best for last, hitting 224-7 (68.46) to grab the gold.

Said the winner, “To be honest, I really expected to do this in these championships but it was hard. I must say I’m really impressed with the German fans. It is evident they really value athletics, and, in particular, the German athletes. I’m always excited to come back here to Berlin and compete. He also had a weather critique, saying, “The competition was very difficult: hot, wet, after rain. It looks like we’re in the tropics.”

Of this being the final Euros for ’08 Olympic champ Gerd Kanter (5th at 211-1/64.34) and ’12 Olympic champ/3-time world champ Robert Harting (6th at 211-0/64.33), Gudžius said, “The gods of the discus are leaving, and we are just children.” Two of the event’s big names weren’t even in the final, both Christoph Harting (’16 Olympic gold medalist) and Piotr Malachowski (’15 world champion) racking up triple-foul results in the Q-round.

The men’s long jump leader after the first round at 26-1½ (7.96), Miltiádis Tentóglou of Greece got knocked back to bronze position after Germany’s Fabian Heinle launched a 26-8¼ (8.13) in round 2 and Ukraine’s Serhii Nykyforov matched that in round 3. Tentóglou improved to 26-3 (8.00) in round 3, fouled his next attempt, and then exploded with a 27-¾ (8.25) in round 5 to seal the win. The gold will match the Euro Junior medal he captured last year.

Another Polish Throws Gold

In the women’s shot, Paulina Guba came from behind on her final throw to upend Christina Schwanitz. The German had led from the first round with her 62-11½ (19.19). The Pole had thrown 61-7 (18.77) in round 1, improving to 62-5 (19.02) in round 5 before her 63-5 (19.33) corker. It was her second-best throw ever, after her PR 63-7 (19.38) set exactly a month ago. Said the winner, “I am shocked. I am sorry if I upset the local fans but I surprised even myself. I just wanted to win and it is my first medal from a big competition.”

Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter had no trouble dominating the 10,000, her evenly paced 31:43.29 (15:52.19/15:51.10) easily handling Dutchwoman Susan Krumins (31:52.55) and Sweden’s Meraf Bahta (32:19.34). The 29-year-old former Kenyan has been racing in Israel since ’12 and has been competing for the nation since ’16.

The failure of heavy decathlon favorite Kevin Mayer to make it past the second event on Tuesday opened the door for Germany’s Arthur Abele, who scored the win over Russians Ilya Shkurenyov, 8431–8321. Britain’s NCAA champion, Tim Duckworth, was in runner-up position before the final event but dropped to 5th in 8160.

In the morning qualifying, all three German men’s javelin throwers qualified nicely, with Johannes Vetter (286-8/87.39) and Thomas Röhler (280-5/85.47) taking the top 2 places. The 1500 heats saw all three Ingebrigtsens get through, though Filip made it a show, falling on lap 3 and getting up to sprint madly to qualify despite a spike wound. Notable in not qualifying was Czech Jakob Holuša, who PRed 2 weeks ago at Monaco with his 3:32.49.

Ukraine’s Anna Ryzhykova led the 400H semis at 54.82, her fastest time in 5 years. Failing to qualify was Denmark’s Olympic silver medalist, Sara Slott Petersen, as well as 2-time World champ Zuzana Hejnová.
The dream of doubling is still alive for Karsten Warholm, after he won his 400 semi in 44.91. However, he will have to contend with Britain’s Matthew Hudson-Smith, who looked very powerful and relaxed in his 44.76 qualifier. Belgium’s Jonathan Borlée (44.87) could also make noise in the final.

Wednesday’s Medal Winners

Men’s Long Jump
Miltiádis Tentóglou (Greece), Fabian Heinle (Germany), Serhii Nykforov (Ukraine)

Discus
Andrius Gudžius (Lithuania), Daniel Ståhl (Sweden), Lukas Weißhaidinger (Austria)

Decathlon
Arthur Abele (Germany), Ilya Shkurenyov (Russia), Vitali Zhuk (Belarus)

Women’s 10,000
Lonah Chemtai Salpeter (Israel), Susan Krumins (Netherlands), Meraf Bahta (Sweden)

Shot
Paulina Guba (Poland), Christina Schwanitz (Germany), Aliona Dubitskaya (Belarus)

Finals on tap for Thursday, when the daily high is supposed to drop down to the low 90s (33C): men’s 200, steeple, 400H, JT; women’s 100H, PV.