My Top 5 Men’s Moments From Berlin

Ramil Guliyev is threatening to bring down Pietro Mennea’s ancient altitude-aided Euro 200 Record. (MARK SHEARMAN)

1. Ramil Guliyev Ready To Shake Up The Furlong

When Pietro Mennea ran 19.72 in the rarefied air of Mexico City in ’79, it was a WR and was to stay on the books for the best part of 17 years until Michael Johnson ran 19.66 at the ’96 OT in Atlanta. The Italian’s mark still remains a European Record even though another 9 Continental sprinters have broken 20 but now, finally, it looks to be living on borrowed time after Ramil Guliyev ran 19.76 in Berlin. It was the second-best time by a European and a sea-level record. Despite a disappointing 7th at Pre back in May, Guliyev has had a consistent record since and won at the Oslo and Stockholm DL meetings before being beaten in Monaco as Noah Lyles sped to his 19.65 PR and world-leading mark. Into the bargain, the reigning world champ’s storming last leg in the 4×1 brought Turkey from a long way back through to silver and almost snatched gold from the Great Britain quartet.

Having already confirmed he will run in the DL 200 final in Zürich and then the Continental Cup in Ostrava, the scene is set for Guliyev to bring the season to a climax with a couple of great 200 battles with Lyles and, maybe, Michael Norman.

2. Young Guns Unfazed By The Pressure

In many respects, the overarching tale of the ’18 Euros was the number of titles won by young talents. Many yards of hard copy and terabytes of social media coverage have been expounded on Mondo Duplantis and his PV gold while Jakob Ingebrigtsen became the youngest-ever male European champion when he won the 1500 and then took a stunning double the next day when he won the 5000 final in a European Junior (U20) Record.
Sure, Ingebrigtsen’s path to this sensational double was eased by a sympathetic timetable which meant he didn’t have to run a 5000 heat—which caused considerable debate about the rights and wrongs of this decision when 24 men lined up for the final—but he still put two high caliber fields to the sword and he hasn’t even celebrated his 18th birthday.

The likes of 400H winner Karsten Warholm and shot silver medallist Konrad Bukowiecki are scarcely much older at just 22 and 21. Europe looks to have a good set of crowd pleasers and seat fillers in place for the next decade, which is of prime importance as, like it or not, that’s where the money and the important 1-day meetings are going to be regardless of the structure and future of the Diamond League after the end of next summer.

3. Nelson Évora Is Almost Ageless

Portuguese triple jumper Nelson Évora won his first Continental title more than 15 years ago at the ’03 European juniors. For a few years, he seemed the man most likely to take down Jonathan Edwards’ longstanding WR as he chalked up victories at the ‘07 WC and ’08 OG. Injuries intervened for several years and stalled his progress between ’10 and ’14 but then he came back to form with a Euro Indoor gold medal in ’15 and defended that title last year. Finally, at the age of 34, he notched up the one accolade that had been missing from his collection, an outdoor Euro crown.

Now coached by Cuban LJ legend Iván Pedroso and spending much of his time across the border in Spain, Évora perhaps served notice to Christian Taylor, et al, that they shouldn’t take the Portuguese jumper’s advancing age as any sign of a decline in his fighting spirt. For the record, the bronze in Berlin was won by an even older TJer, Dimítrios Tsiámis. The 36-year-old Greek was contesting his fourth Euro final and finally got on the podium, becoming the event’s oldest-ever medalist.

4. Martinot-Lagarde Finally Comes Good

Sergey Shubenkov came to town as the favorite in the wake of his sparkling runs around the international circuit—which included a 12.92 WL in Hungary and was the only man under 13 this year—but the Russian never recovered from a poor getaway and had to settle for silver despite closing down on France’s fast-starting Pascal Martinot-Lagarde.

The pair were given the same time of 13.17 but Martinot-Lagarde got the verdict by 0.002 after the photofinish was examined, the winner collapsing to the track and sobbing his heart out with a mixture of delight and relief. Even since he emerged as a top-class hurdler in ’12, a major outdoor Senior title has evaded the ’10 World Junior champion although he holds the French NR at 12.95 from the ’14 Monaco DL meeting. He did medal at 3 successive World Indoors between ’12 and ’16 but a Euro bronze in ’14 and 4ths at the ’15 WC and ’16 OG had been his best performances outdoors. Now the jinx has been broken.

5. How To Say Goodbye To A Local Hero

Robert Harting is inexorably linked with Berlin. At the ’09 WC in the city, the German capital resident and member of the local sports club produced a come-from-behind victory in the last round with a PR of 227-8 (69.43) to move up from silver to gold and, as T&FN wrote at the time, “turn the stadium into a cauldron of noise.” His subsequent antics with the mascot Berlino (who was making a comeback at these Euros), became an internet sensation.

Two more world titles and a pair of Euro golds later, Harting—a conspicuous booster for the champs for the last 2 years to further cement his local popularity—decided to call it a day and had targeted this competition for his finale. The sendoff was tumultuous with the crowd raising the rafters every time he entered the circle.

This time he didn’t get on the podium, finishing 6th with 211-0 (64.33) but the crowd rose to its feet after the competition was over as he was feted from the stands and the infield by almost 40,000 spectators as well as his fellow throwers. Videos were played on the stadium’s big screens of some of his greatest triumphs as David Bowie’s epic cut Heroes—coincidently written and first recorded in Berlin—played over the speakers. Harting could not avoid tears welling up in his eyes. A few discus throwers have thrown further than his best of 231-10 (70.66) but the event has had no one as charismatic for decades. □