Birmingham 2007 European indoor championships


02 March 2007

Day One: News from heats and qualification

There was plenty of action on Day One of the European Athletic Indoor Championships in Birmingham’s NIA. In addition to four people being crowned European Indoor Champion, there were a number of heats and qualification rounds.

Defending champion Igor Pavlov and world outdoor champion Rens Blom were the two high-profile casualties of pole vault qualification. Pavlov, of Russia, with a best of 5.80m this season failed all three attempts at 5.65m as did the Dutchman Blom, the surprise winner of the world title in Helsinki in 2005, to miss the eight-man cut.

Former world indoor champion Tim Lobinger was almost a third casualty after failing his first two attempts at 5.55m. But the veteran German got his act together on the third attempt and cleared 5.65m at the first time of asking to make Saturday’s final. German Bjorn Otto, the European number one this season, was the only man to clear the automatic qualification height of 5.70m

Portugal’s 2005 European indoor champion Naide Gomes progressed easily in the defence of her long jump title, leaping to 6.68m with her first jump to head the qualifiers. Latvia’s Ineta Radevica followed Gomes’ lead and went out to an indoor personal best of 6.67m with her first attempt for second place in the rankings.

Heat 2 of the first round of the women’s 800m was incident packed; Britain’s Karen Harewood was leading at the start of the third lap when Russia’s Mariya Shapayeva trod on her heal. Both runners fell to the track and Portugal’s Maria Carmo Tavares and Greece’s Eleni Filandra, running fast behind them, failed to negotiate the sprawling runners and also ended up on the floor.

Shapayeva was the only one of the quartet to get to her feet and eventually finished third before being disqualified. Tavares and Filandra gradually dusted themselves off and limped from the track. But Harewood was clearly in considerable pain and, after a lot of medical attention on track-side, was stretchered from the arena with a fractured left femur.

The race was comfortably won by the Ukraine’s Tetyana Petlyuk in 2:05.44, with Slovenia’s Brigita Langerholc second in 2:05.95.

In heat one, Russia’s Oksana Zbrozhek had adopted the tactic that the safest way to stay out of trouble was to lead from gun to tape. She pulled away on the last of four laps to win in 2:03.67. Behind Zbrozhek, Britain’s Marilyn Okoro won the dual for the second automatic spot in the semi-finals after coming around Bulgaria’s Teodora Kolarova off the final bend. Okoro stopped the clock at 2:04.53 with Kolarova eight-hundredths behind.

After the hiatus caused by the injuries in heat two, Poland’s Aneta Lemiesz used the same tactic as Zbrozhek to win heat three in 2:03:68. Britain’s Jenny Meadows moved from fourth to second over the final 150m and came up on the shoulder of the Pole but in the end had to settle for second although she was given the same time.

The fastest time in the first round was clocked by Slovenia’s indoor world record holder Jolanda Ceplak, who won heat four in 2:02.82.

The men’s 800m was incident prone too. One of the pre-event favourites, Florent Lacasse, was one of two athletes disqualified after a physical second heat of the 800m. The former world junior silver medallist produced a controlled performance as he crossed the line first but he was thrown out of the event for breaking too early from his lane. Russian Yuriy Koldin was also disqualified after he appeared to shove 18-year Briton James Brewer down the home straight. Brewer shrugged off Koldin’s attentions to cross the line second – later upgraded to first - in 1:50.40.

The European number one Arnoud Okken looked hugely impressive as he comfortably won heat three. Okken, the training partner of European outdoor 800m champion Bram Som, controlled the race from the front and crossed the line in 1:49.12.

There were no surprises in the women’s 1500m heats as Europe’s leading 1-2-3, Lidia Chojecka (POL), Helen Clitheroe (GBR), and Sonja Roman (SLO) all went through without difficulty.

A classy performance from Nicola Sanders marks her out as the woman to beat in the 400m, running the fastest time of the semi-finals in 51.06 seconds. “This felt better than the morning,” she said. “This morning I ran the first 200m fast and then eased off and I’m not sure that was a good idea, but I ran hard all the way in the semi-final.” In the first semi-final, Ilona Usovich (Belarus) claimed first spot in 51.23 seconds.

Germany’s Bastian Swillims was the fastest qualifier for the men’s 400m final, crossing the line in a personal best time of 45.92. In the second semi, a burn-up between defending champion, David Gillick (IRL) and Robert Tobin (GBR) resulted in the Irishman just getting the nod in 46.19.

A leap of 14.24m secured Romania’s Adelina Gavrila the top qualification spot in the women’s triple jump. Olesya Bufalova (RUS) was four centimetres behind with a best of 14.20m, with team-mate Oksana Udmurtova the only other automatic qualifier ahead of Sunday’s final.

An extremely tight women’s high jump qualification saw nine women clear 1.93m. Belgium’s Tia Hellebaut took top spot on countback, whilst France’s Melanie Skotnik was the unlucky competitor to miss out on Saturday’s final, with only the top eight going through.

  © BCC 2006