Report09 Jul 2018

World U18 best for Kokhan, memorable doubles for Vicente and Healy at European U18 Championships


Myhaylo Kokhan in the hammer at the European U18 Championships (© Getty Images)

Less than 24 hours after Maria Vicente’s world U18 heptathlon best, the record books were revised again in Gyor as Ukraine’s Myhaylo Kokhan threw the boys’ 5kg hammer out to 87.82m at the European U18 Championships on Saturday.

The world U18 champion arrived in the Hungarian city as No.2 on the world all-time list after his personal best of 86.78m in Finland eight weeks ago. With warm, dry weather conditions predicted, there was high expectation that the global mark was going to be improved upon after Kokhan set a championship record of 82.42m in Friday’s qualifying competition.

In the end, he produced a series of stunning quality for this age group with all five of his valid throws beyond 83 metres and three farther than 86 metres.

After throwing 86.60m in the second round, Kokhan improved to 87.00m – then the second-best U18 mark ever – in the third round to come within touching distance of the world best of 87.16m, set by Hungary’s Bence Halazs in 2014. Then, with the last throw of the competition, Kokhan sent his hammer out to 87.82m.

"I am over the moon!" said the understandably delighted Kokhan, who was later congratulated by Halazs in person as the Hungarian was present at the championship. "I have worked so hard for this, and I deserved it. It is an incredible feeling and a wonderful achievement to break the world best."

Bulgaria’s 16-year-old Valentin Andreev threw an otherwise superb 81.41m but had to settle for second, more than six metres in arrears of Kokhan.

The local organisers overlooked the chance for a good photo opportunity when they chose Halasz to present the boys’ javelin medals rather the ones for the hammer, but he still garlanded another outstanding young thrower, Poland’s Marek Mucha.

Mucha added more than four metres to his previous best when he threw 79.00m in the third round and then, with the last throw of the competition, improved again when he sent his 700g javelin out to 80.01m.

Triple jump spectacular

The final day’s highlights on Sunday were dominated by the girls.

Vicente returned to the fray in the triple jump with a brilliant performance to defeat the pre-championship favourite and world U18 silver medallist Aleksandra Nacheva from Bulgaria.

The multi-talented Spaniard – who also heads the European U18 100m hurdles list and is second in the long jump this year – bounded out to a lifetime best and championship record of 13.84m in the first round as Nacheva opened with13.43m.

After a couple of marginal but big fouls, Nacheva reached 13.76m in the fifth round before taking the lead with another championship record of 13.88m with her final jump. However, Vicente responded magnificently to snatch back the gold medal with 13.95m on the very last jump of the competition.

Ireland's Sarah Healy emulated the achievement of Switzerland's Delia Sclabas at the inaugural championships in Tbilisi two years ago by adding the 1500m title to the 3000m gold medal she had won on Friday.

Having a day to recover from the longer distance, the 17-year-old looked fresh from the gun before uncorking a last lap of 64.31 to run away from her rivals and win in 4:18.71.

Despite the championship conditions, her winning time was still faster than any other European U18 girl has run this year.

"I have already got a few medals and when I woke up today I knew it that I wanted to have another one," said Healy, who was familiar with the Gyor facilities having won the 1500m at the European Youth Olympic Festival here 12 months ago.

Mahuchikh flies ever higher

Like her compatriot Kokhan, Ukrainian high jumper Yaroslava Mahuchikh had also won in Nairobi and added a continental title to her collection in Gyor.

Mahuchikh, 16, had won the contest with her first-time clearance at 1.83m but then cleared 1.86m before going over a personal best and championship record of 1.94m on her third attempt to move up to equal fifth on the world U18 all-time list.

Czech Republic's Barbora Malikova was another Nairobi winner to triumph again over the weekend.

Malikova, 16, cruised through her heat and semi-final without igniting any fireworks, but then moved up a gear in Saturday’s final to set a championship record of 52.66.

“I am extremely happy and tired at the same time,” she said. “It is exhausting to run 400 metres three times in three days, especially with this [hot] weather.”

There was also a championship record in the boys’ 400m final with Italy's Lorenzo Benati just hanging on over the final 50 metres to hold off Great Britain's fast-finishing Ethan Brown, the pair clocking 46.85 to 46.87 respectively and both going under 47 seconds for the first time.

Benati then also added his name to the select list of double gold medallists in Gyor when he anchored Italy to victory in the last track event of the four days, the boys’ medley relay, with the Azzurri winning in 1:33.01.

However, the top boys’ performer on the track at the championship was arguably the British 110m hurdler Sam Bennett. Having sped to a massively windy 13.15 in Friday’s semi-final, he then produced a display of slick hurdling and quick sprinting between the barriers to take the gold in a record-legal 13.15.

It was the second-fastest time ever by a European U18 hurdler, just 0.03 shy of Wilhem Belocian’s six-year-old continental best and raised him to fifth on the world U18 all-time list.

Like in Tbilisi, Great Britain topped the medal table – this time with six gold, two silver and a bronze – and their tally was helped by 16-year-old Max Burgin on Sunday.

The Briton made a massive impression in May when he clocked 1:47.50 while he was still 15 but he improved on that time in the 800m final, clocking a championship record of 1:47.36 with a dominant gun-to-tape display for a European age-16 best.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF