03 March 2007
Day 2: Field events round-up
Belgium’s Tia Hellebaut leapt to an emphatic victory in the women’s high jump, to win the first gold medal of Day Two at the European Athletics Indoor Championships.
The 2006 European Champion was in a class of her own in Birmingham’s NIA, clearing 2.05m to break the 19 year-old championship record and setting a new national best in the process.
“After yesterday I was in good form and when I woke up this morning I knew I could clear 2.00m but I wasn’t expecting 2.05m. However the track here is great,” she said.
Hellebaut made one attempt at the world record height of 2.09m before being passed her nation’s flag and setting off on her victory lap.
The Belgium was a massive nine centimetres clear of her nearest rivals - Antonietta di Martino (ITA) and Venelina Veneva (BUL) both jumped 1.96m, with di Martino clinching silver on count back. The silver medalist said: “I had dreamed of a silver medal but certainly didn’t expect it.”
It was a battle between the Ukraine and Germany in the men’s pole vault final, with competitors from the two nations finishing in the top five positions. Germany’s Danny Ecker stole the victory; although the Ukraine’s Denys Yurchenko and Germany’s Bjorn Otto both cleared the same height as the gold medallist, but had to settle for silver and bronze respectively on count back.
“I guess a win is a win no matter what height is jumped,” said Ecker. “It was not a good competition. I had to change my pole for a harder one which is not a good thing to do at a championship. I think the heights were not good today and we all feel as if we were poor today.”
Oleksandr Korchmid (UKR) and Tim Lobinger (GER) were fourth and fifth.
In the last field final of Day Two, Portugal’s Naide Gomes jumped 6.89m to take gold in the women’s long jump, setting a new national record in the process. Spain’s Concepcion Montaner was second with a season’s best of 6.69m, whilst Czech Denisa Scerbova equaled her national record with 6.64m to take bronze.
The gold medalist said: “My first jump really put me at ease and I felt that the girls' were always chasing me after that. Last time, in Moscow, I had a good fifth jump so I knew I had plenty of strength in my legs at the end. It was the same this time.”
Montaner had come for gold but was happy with silver: “However, it was not until Naide's [GOMES - POR] jump in the fifth round that I was happy to settle for this. This is great to have a medal for me in my first senior season. My career in the seniors is on the up,” she said.