Nafissatou Thiam in action at the European Indoor Championships (© AFP / Getty Images)
Olympic heptathlon champion Nafissatou Thiam highlighted the first day of finals at the European Indoor Championships in Torun on Friday (5) as the Belgian won the pentathlon with a world-leading national record of 4904.
Four years after she last won the title – in what was also her last major indoor championships appearance – Thiam ultimately won with relative ease and led a Belgian 1-2 finish as compatriot Noor Vidts took the silver medal with 4791. Hungary’s Xenia Krizsan took bronze with a PB of 4644.
Thiam enjoyed a solid start to the day with an 8.31 clocking in the 60m hurdles and then took the overall lead after clearing 1.89m in the high jump. She stayed at the top of the leader board after producing the best marks of the field in the shot put (15.16m) and long jump (6.60m) and headed into the final discipline with a comfortable lead.
She could have enjoyed an easy run in the 800m, but instead Thiam produced her only individual PB of the day – 2:18.80 – to bring her winning tally to 4904, good enough for seventh on the world indoor all-time list.
Like Thiam, silver and bronze medallist Vidts and Krizsan maintained their overall positions from the second discipline onwards and were rewarded with respective PBs of 4791 and 4644.
“This title is very special to me,” said Thiam. “The past 12 months has been a very weird period, so to be back in competition at a championship feels great. It’s been four years since I’ve done a pentathlon, so I didn’t know what to expect, but it was really, really good.
“I’m looking forward to the summer,” added the 2017 world champion. “With more technical work, I think I can do great things.”
Tentoglou retains title, Ingebrigtsen gains revenge
Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou successfully defended his long jump title. He sailed out to 8.35m in the first round and it remained the best mark of the competition – but only just.
Sweden’s Thobias Montler sailed out to a national indoor record of 8.31m in the third round, which was eventually good enough for silver, repeating the same 1-2 finish from two years ago. Finland’s Kristian Pulli, meanwhile, saved his best for last and jumped a national indoor record of 8.24m in the sixth round to take bronze, overtaking Ukraine’s Vladyslav Mazur (8.14m).
Two years on from his 1500m defeat at the hands of Marcin Lewandowski, Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen was out for revenge in Torun.
The double outdoor European champion hit the front on the second lap and dictated the pace, going through 800m in 1:57.75 and 1000m in 2:26.70. Lewandowski went with him, as did Spain’s Jesus Gomez, the bronze medallist from 2019.
Despite their best efforts, Ingebrigtsen held off the challenge of his pursuers and crossed the line first in 3:37.56, beating Lewandowski (3:38.06) and Gomez (3:38.47).
Little more than 10 minutes later, however, it was declared that Ingebrigtsen – who had been involved in some jostling on the first lap and was pushed from behind – had been disqualified for a lane violation. Lewandowski was then promoted to the gold medal position, but an hour or so later the decision was reversed and Ingebrigtsen was announced the winner.
In the other track final of the first day, Britain’s Amy-Eloise Markovc emerged the surprise winner in a PB of 8:46.43. Israel’s Selamawit Bayoulgn did much of the work and led for the first 12 of the 15 laps, but then drifted out of medal contention.
Maureen Koster of the Netherlands tripped in the closing stages, while Markovc and teammates Verity Ockenden and Amelia Quirk started kicking for home, as did Alice Finot of France. Markovc proved to strongest at the end, though, and held off Finot to take gold. Finot (8:46.54) and Ockenden (8:46.60) were rewarded with PBs to sit alongside their respective silver and bronze medals.
Stanek and Dongmo take shot put crowns
Both shot put finals had drama in the closing stages.
Tomas Stanek took a few rounds to find his rhythm but moved into a medal position with his third-round throw of 21.24m. Defending champion Michal Haratyk led at the half-way point with 21.33m, just ahead of Croatia’s Filip Mihaljevic (21.31m).
But in the pentultimate round, Stanek sent his shot out to 21.62m to move into pole position. Haratyk responded with 21.47m minutes later and ended his series with 21.21m but couldn’t catch the Czech thrower.
Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo won the women’s event as expected, but she didn’t completely dominate the competition.
Sweden’s Fanny Roos uncorked a national record of 19.29m in round five to take a brief lead from Dongmo, who had led up until that point with 19.21m. But Dongmo retaliated with 19.34m to wrap up the fifth round, which eventually secured the gold medal for the 30-year-old. Germany’s 2015 world champion Christina Schwanitz took bronze thanks to a last-round effort of 19.04m.
Flying Dutchmen and women advance to 400m finals
Aside from the medal-winning performances, one of the biggest stories of the championships so far is that the men’s 400m final will go ahead without Pavel Maslak.
The Czech sprinter, who has won three European indoor titles at the distance as well as the past three world indoor titles, won his heat on Friday morning but was run out of a qualifying spot in his semifinal later in the day, finishing fourth in 46.70.
Instead, Dutch trio Tony van Diepen (46.06), Liemarvin Bonevacia (46.75) and Jochem Dobber (46.56) won the three semifinals. Oscar Husillos, the silver medallist in 2019, also advanced to the final, as did Slovenian record-holder Luka Janezic and fast-finishing Swede Carl Bengstrom.
Femke Bol, also of the Netherlands, was the fastest qualifier for the women’s 400m and made light work of her 51.17 run in the semifinals as defending champion Lea Sprunger failed to advance. European champion Justyna Swiety-Ersetic won the second semifinal in a Polish indoor record of 51.34, beating Lieke Klaver of the Netherlands. Ireland’s Phil Healy was the other semifinal winner.
Alvaro de Arriba’s defence of his 800m title ended in the first round as he finished fifth in a heat won convincingly by world silver medallist Amel Tuka. World indoor champion Adam Kszczot also went through to the semifinals, finishing second in his heat behind Britain’s Guy Learmonth. Sweden’s Andreas Kramer was the fastest heat winner, clocking 1:47.55.
Norway’s Hedda Hynne – who clocked a national record of 1:58.10 last year – was the biggest name to exit the women’s 800m in the heats. She struggled to get on level terms with heat winner Ellie Baker and wound up fourth, 0.02 short of a qualifying spot.
Polish champion Joanna Jozwik and compatriot Anna Wielgosz won their respective heats, as did Britain’s European indoor leader Keely Hodgkinson.
Elsewhere, Khaddi Sagnia led the long jump qualifiers with her 6.78m leap, while world champion Malaika Mihambo (6.58m) and world U20 record-holder Larissa Iapichino (6.70m) also advanced to the final.
World silver medallist Yaroslava Mahuchikh topped the women’s high jump qualifiers, while Pedro Pablo Pichardo was the only man to jump beyond 17 metres in the triple jump qualifying round. Melvin Raffin, the second-ranked triple jumper in Europe this year, failed to make it through.
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics