Report09 Jul 2024

Alfred, Katzberg and Fabbri take confidence-boosting wins in Szekesfehervar


Julien Alfred on her way to winning the 200m in Szekesfehervar (© Laszlo Zsigmond)

Julien Alfred, Ethan Katzberg and Leonardo Fabbri were among the notable winners at the Istvan Gyulai Memorial – the final World Athletics Tour Gold meeting ahead of the Olympic Games – in Szekesfehervar on Tuesday (9).

All three displayed the kind of form that could carry them to their first Olympic medal in Paris next month. Several other gold medallists from the Tokyo Olympic Games – including Andre De Grasse, Steven Gardiner and Jasmine Camacho-Quinn – returned to Szekesfehervar and won again.

But it was a frustrating competition for two-time world 200m champion Shericka Jackson. Like many others in action this evening, the Jamaican had been hoping to produce a performance that would boost her confidence ahead of the Games. Following a slow start to the season, she appeared to be rounding into form at the right time with a double sprint win at the recent Jamaican Championships.

After a strong start, Jackson came off the bend in the lead and appeared to be on her way to a fourth 200m win in Szekesfehervar, but she pulled up injured in the closing stages as world indoor 60m champion Julien Alfred came through to win in a season’s best of 22.16.

Britain’s Daryll Neita was second (22.36) and Jamaica’s Lanae-Tava Thomas third (22.54) as Jackson walked across the line in pain.

Jackson's fellow world champion Gianmarco Tamberi also had a frustrating evening. The Olympic and European champion from Italy picked up an injury to his femoral bicep during warm-up for the men's high jump, so he withdrew as a precaution.

"I hope it’s nothing serious, but the truth is that 30 days from the Olympics even a crooked hair is serious," said Tamberi after withdrawing from a competition won by Dmytro Nikitin with 2.24m. "I hope with all my heart that I'll be able to get back on the ground soon to continue pursuing what I've been working for every single day for the past three years now."

World champion Ethan Katzberg extended his winning streak in the hammer, beating many of the big contenders he’ll be up against at the Olympic Games in Paris.

The Canadian took an early lead with 80.38m in round one before improving to 81.81m in round two and then 81.87m in round three. Ukraine’s Mykhaylo Kokhan was the only other man beyond 80 metres, throwing 80.50m, while Olympic champion Wojciech Nowicki was third with 79.36m.

Ethan Katzberg, winner of the hammer in Szekesfehervar

Ethan Katzberg, winner of the hammer in Szekesfehervar (© Laszlo Zsigmond)

Leonardo Fabbri was another thrower to keep their winning streak alive. The European champion from Italy dominated the shot put and produced the three best throws of the competition, opening with 21.80m, improving to 22.22m in round four and then rounding out his series with 22.43m. USA’s Jordan Geist was second with 21.72m.

Olympic champions take repeat wins

In the sprints, there were victories from three Olympic gold medallists who have previously won at this meeting.

Olympic 400m champion Steven Gardiner achieved his sixth victory in Szekesfehervar, holding off a late charge from Jamaica’s Sean Bailey. The Bahamian sprinter produced a controlled and well-timed effort to wan in 44.50 to Bailey’s 44.64. Lythe Pillay was further back in third (45.24).

In the women’s 110m hurdles, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn trailed 2019 world champion Nia Ali over the first few barriers, but the Puerto Rican came through in the closing stages to win in 12.47 (-0.2m/s). Ali held on for second (12.54) ahead of Ecuador’s Maribel Caicedo (12.69).

Andre De Grasse – who, like Gardiner and Camacho-Quinn, won in Szekesfehervar just a few weeks before striking gold at the Tokyo Games in 2021 – returned to the Hungarian city to win the men’s 200m. The Canadian was just 0.01 away from matching his winning time from three years ago, clocking a season’s best of 19.98 to finish 0.39 ahead of Jamaica’s Andrew Hudson.

World leader Kishane Thompson backed up his recent victory at the Jamaican Trials with his first win of the year outside his home country.

The 23-year-old, who clocked 9.77 in Kingston last month, was a comfortable winner of the 100m in Szekesfehervar, winning in 9.91 (-0.6m/s). He would have taken great confidence from the fact that he finished comfortably ahead of world silver medallist Letsile Tebogo (9.99) and multiple global championships finalist Akani Simbine (10.01).

Kishane Thompson, 100m winner in Szekesfehervar

Kishane Thompson, 100m winner in Szekesfehervar (© Laszlo Zsigmond)

Tamari Davis, seeking redemption after her fourth-place finish at the US Olympic Trials, won the women’s 100m in 11.00, beating Jamaica’s Tia Clayton (11.06).

Trey Cunningham – who, like Davis, missed out on Olympic selection at the highly competitive US Trials – was a convincing winner of the men’s 110m hurdles in 13.21 from US compatriot Cordell Tinch (13.35).

Alekna and Tentoglou salvage victory

The three big hitters in the men’s discus – world record-holder Mykolas Alekna, European champion Kristjan Ceh and Olympic champion Daniel Stahl – looked as though they were on course for a shock defeat up until the final two rounds.

Lithuania’s 2017 world champion Andrius Gudzius threw a season’s best of 66.57m in round three to give him the lead. At the end of round four, Gudzius still held pole position ahead of Alekna and Ceh.

But Ceh then unleashed a throw of 67.99m to take a short-lived lead before Alekna leapfrogged him with 68.28m. The Lithuanian then extended his lead in the final round with 70.20m.

In the long jump, world and Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou almost didn’t make the cut for the top eight, as he had a best of just 7.65m after round two. But the Greek then sailed out to 8.18m in round three to move into the lead ahead of Mattia Furlani, the Italian teenager Tentoglou beat to the European title last month.

Tentoglou then improved to 8.23m (-0.6m/s) in round four to consolidate his lead. No one else jumped beyond eight metres in the second half of the competition.

Colombia’s Natalia Linares won the women’s long jump with a final-round PB of 6.87m (-1.2m/s), which carried her into the lead ahead of Ackelia Smith (6.83m).

Elsewhere, Asian record-holder Kemi Adekoya won the women’s 400m hurdles in 54.13.

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