04 March 2007
Day 3: Other highlights from the track
The double outdoor sprint champion and defending indoor champion, Kim Gevaert (BEL) confirmed the predictions with a win in the 60m in 7.12 for a national record. It was her third indoor European gold medal.
“I was so nervous I messed up my start,” said the Belgian champion. “Yesterday I felt really good, but the final is always a different race and it's always much, much tougher. This is my third indoor title, so I'm very, very proud and happy.”
Silver went to the Russian champion, Yevgeniya Polyakova, while bronze was won by Poland’s Daria Onysko in 7.20, just getting the nod over Britain’s Jeanette Kwakye who was given the same time.
“Yesterday, I was so happy to get through to the final,” said Onysko. “I never thought or even dreamed that I would get a medal today. I am in tears now but they are tears of happiness. A bronze medal to me is the best thing that could have happened.”
Poland’s Lidia Chojecka made history to become the first athlete to complete the 1500m and 3000m double at the European Indoor Championships with a comprehensive victory.
Just 24 hours after cruising to victory over the shorter distance she proved just as dominant over the longer distance out-kicking her rivals with a blistering final 400m. Spain’s former title holder Marta Dominguez took the silver with Silvia Weissteiner snatching a surprise bronze for Italy.
European No.1 Jo Pavey of Great Britain took up the pace from the gun but despite setting a healthy pace for 13 of the 15 laps she failed to inject sufficient speed to break her main opposition and eventually faded to sixth.
The Pole was simply unstoppable in the last lap and showed no sign of fatigue after the rigours of competing in the 1500m yesterday and stopped the clock in 8:44.40 to retain her title.
Chojecka said: “The weekend could not have been better for me. I am tired now, after the 1500m, but I can be happy now that I have two medals.”
Arnoud Okken led all the way in the men’s 800m to claim victory. It was a daring performance by the Dutchman who took the lead half way round the first lap and never ceded it. In second was Miguel Quesada (ESP) and bronze went to Italy’s Maurizio Bobbato.
Quesada paid tribute to the gold medalist. “Okken is a very tough man to beat on the track. I thought I was in with a chance when I got to the bell, but he is very strong over the last lap. In a race like that, I am very happy to come second to such a strong runner. Next time, I hope the positions are reversed.”
In the women’s race, Russia’s Oksana Zbrozhek won her first major international title, taking gold in 1:59.23. “My coach told me before the race that this gold medal will be won by the mind rather than the body,” she said. "I didn't come here with any great ambitions until I won the semi-final and then I realised I could win the gold medal.”
The Russian champion hit the front with 300m to go to calm the nerves of her coach, overtaking the early leader Jolanda Ceplak, from Slovenia, had a one metre lead at the bell and was never seriously challenged over the final 200m.
The Ukraine’s Tetyana Petlyuk, the fastest European this winter, moved past the flagging Jolanda Ceplak (SLO), the world indoor record holder for the distance, on the final lap but couldn’t close the gap on Zbrozhek and had to settle for second place with 1:59.84.
“I think if I had another 100m I may have caught her. I am disappointed with coming second as I feel I could have won,” reflected Petlyuk.
Ceplak, who won the European indoor crown in 2002 but who is still coming back after serious surgery on her ankle 18 months ago, held off Britain’s Marilyn Okoro to get the bronze medal in 2:00.00. Britain’s Jenny Meadows was fifth.
It was a clean sweep for Spain in the men’s 1500m final.
“This is great. I am so pleased,” said gold medallist Juan Carlos Higuero. “I have won silver and bronze medals in major championships but to finally win a gold is fantastic. This is the first time Spain has one-two-three in the 1,500 so we are all very happy for each other and proud for our country.”
The European 1,500m and 5,000m bronze medallist outdoors last summer, controlled the race from the front, carefully dictating the pace which played to his talents of a sustained sprint over the final 400m rather than a brutal change of pace.
Compatriots Sergio Gallardo and Arturo Casado took silver and bronze respectively.