Jakob Ingebrigtsen wins the 1500m at the European Championships (© Getty Images)
Seventeen years, 324 days.
Jakob Ingebrigtsen may not be old enough to drive in his native Norway, and nor can he walk into a store and purchase cigarettes or alcohol, but he is, at precisely that age, the European 1500m champion.
The youngest athlete in the field produced the most stunning performance witnessed to date at these European Championships, out-shining older brothers Henrik and Filip in the men’s 1500m final on Friday night (10) to take a glorious gold in 3:38.10.
The early pace was steady, the Ingebrigtsen brothers perhaps following advice from father and coach Gjert to stay out of trouble at the back. The pace was taken along instead by Lithuania’s Simas Bertasius with 400 metres reached in 59.52.
But approaching two laps to run, Jakob Ingebrigtsen swept to the front, cranking up the pace and stretching the field. He passed 800 metres in 2:01.12, 1200m in 2:57.76, and a 40.34 final 300 metres did the trick for the tenacious teenager. No one came close, at least not until Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski came charging down the outside as the line approached, but it wasn’t enough.
Ingebrigtsen took a historic gold in 3:38.10, with Lewandowski left to wonder what might have been in second with 3:38.14, while Britain’s Jake Wightman grabbed third in 3:38.25. Henrik Ingebrigtsen took fourth in 3:38.50, with brother Filip only 12th in 3:41.66.
Thiam holds off Johnson-Thompson’s challenge
While that race signalled the arrival of a new champion, the heptathlon heralded the coronation of a current one, Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam confirming her status as the world’s greatest all-round female athlete with a peerless display to take gold.
But the 23-year-old had to fight hard to do it, repelling the challenge of Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who produced the best two days of her career to record a lifetime best of 6759.
That added 67 points to her previous best, but ultimately left her 57 points adrift of Thiam, whose final tally of 6816 is a world lead.
Thiam started day two with an 87-point deficit to overcome on Johnson-Thompson. That gap was only extended after the long jump where Johnson-Thompson managed 6.68m but Thiam stayed in close attention with 6.60m.
In the javelin, Thiam unleashed a whopping championship best of 57.91m to surge to the head of the standings, with Johnson-Thompson’s 42.16m leaving her trailing by 192 points entering the final event.
That amounted to about 13.5 seconds over 800m, and from the start the Briton set out to run her rival into the ground, charging through the first 200 metres in 30.21 and hitting half way in 63.73.
Thiam was dragged into following suit to maintain contact with the field, passing 200 metres in 31.14 and 400 metres in 67.34. Around the last turn, Johnson-Thompson poured on the pace out front and by then she had an eight-second advantage over Thiam, which grew to 10 seconds by the time she hit the finish in 2:09.84. But she was soon greeted by the sight of Thiam, who reached the line in 2:19.35 to once again rule the heptathlon.
“It was a fight until the end and I had to fight with myself too,” said Thiam. “But it is good to have hard competitions. It always gives you something for the future. After the competition I just want to eat everything I cannot before it – burgers, fries, doughnuts – but first of all I want to enjoy Berlin.”
Germany’s Carolin Schafer claimed bronze with 6602, while Austria’s Ivona Dadic set a national record of 6552 in fourth.
The men’s 110m hurdles produced one of the biggest shocks of the week, Sergey Shubenkov denied gold after an inspired effort by France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde. Martinot-Lagarde utilised his early pace to great effect over the first few barriers to lead Shubenkov by a few inches at halfway, but with each barrier Shubenkov clawed his way back to the front.
He led off the last barrier but slightly mistimed his dip, allowing Martinot-Lagarde to edge past by just two thousandths of a second, with both athletes credited with 13.17.
Lea Sprunger confirmed her favourite’s status in the women’s 400m hurdles, the 28-year-old adding to her European bronze medal from 2016 with gold here in Berlin.
Sprunger seized command on the final turn and lasted the race out with impressive strength, hitting the line in a European lead of 54.33 to take gold, before swiftly letting out an exultant scream shortly after crossing the line.
Ukraine’s Anna Ryzhykova took silver with 54.51, while Britain’s Meghan Beesley turned in an outstanding performance from lane one to take bronze in 55.31.
Gold on countback for Lasitskene
Mariya Lasitskene produced another nerveless display to dispatch her rivals and take the women’s high jump title, the neutral athlete winning her first European outdoor gold with a best clearance of 2.00m.
There was likely never a less satisfied European champion in history, however, as such is the level of consistent excellence Lasitskene produces that she was a picture of frustration after failing to go over 2.04m, hitting the bar afterwards and throwing her bag to the floor.
Silver went to Bulgaria’s Mirela Demireva, who did most to worry Lasitskene via her third-time clearance of 2.00m. However she trailed on countback due to a first-time failure at 1.94m, and she was unable to muster any better when the bar moved up to 2.04m.
There was delight for the home crowd as Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch claimed the bronze medal with her clearance of 1.96m, even if the competition ended on a sour note as she was timed out on her third attempt at 1.98m. Lithuania’s Airine Palsyte also cleared 1.96m but was demoted to fourth on countback.
Hussong surprises with championship record
The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the women’s javelin, a competition that was essentially ended in the first round when German Christin Hussong sent the spear sailing across the night sky, crashing into the turf to establish a championship record, personal best and European lead of 67.90m.
No one else came close to that inspired effort, with silver going to Czech Republic’s Nikola Ogrodnikova with 61.85m and bronze to Liveta Jasiunaite with 61.59m.
Britain’s Matthew Hudson-Smith was a class apart in the men’s 400m final, the 23-year-old winning his first individual major championships title in 44.78.
Hudson-Smith rocketed through the first 300 metres and turned for home with an eight-metre lead, and though he began to tie up close to home, he had more than enough to repel the challenge of Belgium’s Kevin Borlee, who took a superb silver from lane one in 45.13. His twin brother Jonathan claimed bronze in 45.19.
Ukraine’s defending champion Nataliya Pryshchepa played her cards late and to great effect in the women’s 800m, swinging around the field off the final turn and kicking to glory in 2:00.38. France’s Renelle Lamote took silver with 2:00.62, while Ukraine had another athlete on the podium in third with Olha Lyakhova scooping bronze in 2:00.79. Britain’s Adelle Tracey stayed on strongly up the inside to finish a close fourth in 2:00.86.
Greece’s Paraskevi Papahristou claimed gold in the women’s triple jump, her winning leap of 14.60m coming in the second round. Germany’s Kristin Gierisch took second in a PB of 14.45m and Spain’s Ana Peleteiro third with 14.44m.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF