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Report02 Mar 2024

Tentoglou and Furlani take long jump to heights as Ehammer makes strong heptathlon start in Glasgow


World indoor long jump medallists Mattia Furlani, Miltiadis Tentoglou and Carey McLeod in Glasgow (© Getty Images)

Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece retained his men’s long jump title on Saturday morning (2) at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 after a compelling challenge with Italy’s rising talent Mattia Furlani, who turned 19 on 7 February.

The 25-year-old Olympic and world champion’s best jump of 8.22m was matched by the young Italian, who briefly secured the lead after producing a superior second best effort of 8.10m.

But Tentoglou went on to demonstrate once again a competitiveness that is almost combative as he regained his standing immediately with an effort of 8.15m.

After Furlani’s final huge effort had been flagged for a foul, the newly established two-time champion was still seeking something bigger with his last jump, and looked almost gloomy when it was revealed to be 8.19m. 

The rivalry was all the more watchable for its contrast in styles - Tentoglou drives; Furlani floats.

“It’s crazy,” Furlani said. “I dreamt of this moment for 20 weeks now. And to have this medal - I very much appreciate it. Tentoglou is really good. Last year I watched him and in my mind I said, ‘wow, it is impossible to compete’. But now I am here and it’s good.” 

The challenge of retaining his Olympic title in Paris is likely to be no less intense for Tentoglou. 

The double act at the top was strongly challenged in the fifth round as Jamaica’s Carey McLeod, who missed out on a world medal on countback last year as two of his compatriots filled silver and bronze positions behind Tentoglou, landed at 8.21m.  

The morning session of the men’s heptathlon was led by Switzerland’s Simon Ehammer, who is so good a long jumper that he won world bronze in that event at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Oregon.

But, as in some nightmare, he failed to register a long jump mark at last year’s European Indoor Championships in Istanbul, and again at the Hypo Meeting.

After making an ideal start to the morning by clocking the fastest 60m time of 6.73 – just 0.01 off his personal best – he found himself facing the long jump pit once more.

Simon Ehammer in the heptathlon 60m in Glasgow

Simon Ehammer in the heptathlon 60m in Glasgow (© Getty Images)

This time, thankfully, he translated his talent into numbers, again producing the best effort with a jump of 8.03m that extended his lead to 61 points heading for the final contest of the morning session, the shot put.

Ken Mullings, the Bahamian who heads this year’s world list with the total of 6340 he earned in January, also made a good start as he equalled his 60m personal best of 6.83 and then produced a highly respectable 7.69m in the long jump.

The shot put inspired five men to produce personal bests, the best of which was the 16.95m thrown by France’s Makenson Gletty. Johannes Erm of Estonia on 15.72m, Markus Rooth of Norway on 15.52m, Vilem Strasky of the Czech Republic on 14.67m and another Norwegian, Sander Skotheim, on 14.58m all excelled themselves.

But eighth place with 14.39m was enough to keep Ehammer on top on 2800 points, with Erm second on 2739, Mullings third on 2684 and Gletty fourth on 2675 at the end of the morning session.

Somewhere there is an athlete – possibly even an ex-athlete – who can legitimately recall when they beat Grant Holloway in the 60m hurdles.

That race took place in 2014 when Holloway finished second as a 16-year-old at the US High School Indoor Nationals in New York.

Since then, he has never lost indoors.

That extraordinary record was maintained in the Glasgow Arena as Holloway, who lowered his own world indoor record to 7.27 at last month’s US Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, qualified fastest for this evening’s 60m hurdles semifinals in 7.43.

Two French athletes filled the next two places, with Wilhem Belocian clocking 7.47 and Just Kwaou-Mathey recording 7.52.

The women’s 60m heats saw two consecutive statements of intent from two of the favourites, Poland’s Ewa Swoboda and Julien Alfred of St Lucia, as they qualified for the evening’s semifinals.

Swoboda, who won the European indoor title in the Glasgow Arena in 2019 and missed a medal at the last World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade by two thousandths of a second, clocked 7.02 – just 0.01 off her season’s best.

“When I woke up I felt, ‘aaahh, it’s too early to run fast!’” she said. “But 7.02? I’ll take that!”

The next heat, however, saw the same time achieved by the athlete who is seeking to become the first from St Lucia to win a world indoor medal, Julien Alfred. And she did so with consummate ease, destroying the opposition before easing off 10 metres before the line.

The 22-year-old, in her first year as a professional after sweeping the board indoors and out in the US college scene last season, is the only woman in the world this season to have bettered 7.00 for the 60m.

That will surely change tonight, especially with Aleia Hobbs of the United States progressing with 7.07. With Alfred she has run 6.94, the second fastest timing ever behind the 6.92 registered by Russia’s Irina Privalova in 1993.

Local heroine Jemma Reekie, fourth at the Tokyo Olympics and still searching for a first senior global medal, won her 800m semifinal to qualify for Sunday’s final with what she herself described as “perfect planning.”

Jemma Reekie wins her 800m semifinal in Glasgow

Jemma Reekie wins her 800m semifinal in Glasgow (© Getty Images)

She tracked the long-time leader Habitam Alemu – the only runner to have run faster than her this season – before overtaking her with a brief sideways glance over the final 15 metres and coming home to stirring applause in 1:58.28.

She didn’t need to win, but was clearly making a point. Or maybe just simply enjoying the fact that she could win. As they crossed the line, Reekie looked in control and Ethiopia’s Alemu, who has run 1:57.86 this season, appeared more stressed.

Uganda’s 2019 world champion Halimah Nakaayi claimed the third automatic spot in 1:58.91.

“Perfect planning!” Reekie said. “I’m in really good shape. Obviously, it’s going to be a really hard final, but the others are going to have to run hard to get past me on my track! I think it will be a fast one.”

But there had been a clear warning for the home runner in the first of the semifinals, where Ethiopia’s Tsige Duguma won in a personal best of 1:58.35.

In what is her first season of indoor 800m running, she finished well clear of two others who also broke two minutes, with Noelie Yarigo of Benin clocking 1:59.45 and Kenya’s Vivien Kiprotich running a personal best of 1:59.65.

In the men’s 800m heats, Spain’s defending champion Mariano Garcia, having – as usual – revved up an imaginary motorbike before his start, won his semifinal in composed fashion, clocking 1:47.83.

But five men ran faster in the second semifinal, with Bryce Hoppel moving into Sunday’s final in 1:45.08, four thousandths of a second faster than Belgium’s Eliott Crestan, for whom the time was a personal best.

France’s Benjamin Robert, Abdelati El Guesse of Morocco and Spain’s Mohamed Attaoui were close behind. The final will be quite a scrap.

Mike Rowbottom for World Athletics

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