Jakob Ingebrigtsen adds the 3000m title to his 1500m gold at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul (© AFP / Getty Images)
A second gold medal by Jakob Ingebrigtsen that was delivered in his serene, superlative style proved one of the highlights of the final night of action at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul on Sunday (5).
Ingebrigtsen traded the lead in the 3000m final with chief rival Adel Mechaal of Spain through a pedestrian first 1000m of 2:41.87, and he slowly squeezed the throttle in the laps that followed, hitting 2000m in 5:15.45. One by one they began to fall away as Ingebrigtsen cranked up the pace, his second 1500m covered in 3:40.59. He waited until the final lap to truly put the hammer down, ripping through it in 26.54 to hit the line in 7:40.32. Mechaal took silver with 7:41.75, while Serbia’s Elzan Bibic took bronze.
“It was a feeling like I raced myself today,” said Ingebrigtsen, who could never be accused of harbouring much self-doubt. “I would love to get some more competition but maybe that is just me, expecting too much. I guess the other runners tried to get a good race for themselves and not fight for second place.”
Ingebrigtsen said he was “not happy” with his indoor season. “I had a good October, November and December going to the Cross Country Championships. After that, I have been doing nothing. But the last couple of weeks have been good. I am really looking forward to getting some good training.”
If there was one favourite more overwhelming than Ingebrigtsen, it was Keely Hodgkinson, and the brilliant Briton was even more peerless when coasting to her second successive women’s 800m title in 1:58.66. Hodgkinson chose to minimise any potential issues by keeping it very simple and powered through the opening lap in 28.36, 400m in 58.22 and 600m in 1:28.58. By then she had a few metres’ advantage, and it was only growing as she hit the line in splendid isolation in 1:58.66.
Keely Hodgkinson claims a dominant European indoor 800m win (© AFP / Getty Images)
“I know what to expect from myself so it was like: Get out there, do my thing,” said Hodgkinson. “I will have a few days off now and then will prepare to chase some more wins. I have so much more. I just want to continue with my consistency.”
Slovenia’s Anita Horvat won silver, clocking 2:00.54, while France’s Agnes Raharolahy came from behind to take bronze in 2:00.85.
There was more British success in the women’s long jump where Jazmin Sawyers upset the favourites to strike gold with a world-leading leap of 7.00m. Italy’s Larissa Iapichino took silver with an Italian indoor record of 6.97m, while three-time champion Ivana Vuleta of Serbia had to settle for bronze with 6.91m. Olympic champion Malaika Mihambo was fourth with 6.83m.
“I am still a little bit in shock,” said Sawyers. “I have been trying it for years and I could not jump seven metres. And today, it was not even in the back of my mind. When it happened, I was like, ‘I do not know what it is but please, be enough.’”
Jazmin Sawyers celebrates her seven-metre leap to win the European indoor long jump title (© AFP / Getty Images)
France’s Kevin Mayer was back to his dominant best in the heptathlon, winning his third European indoor title with a tally of 6348 points. After seizing command on day one with a 6.85m 60m, 7.41m long jump, 15.81m shot put and 1.98m high jump, he kept it going on day two, clocking 7.76 in the 60m hurdles, clearing 5.30m in the pole vault and running 2:44.20 for 1000m. He had complained at the halfway point of feeling below-par due to lack of a sleep in recent days but bounced back well on day two.
“Finally I got some good sleep, maybe it was the key thing,” he said. “I am consistent in my performances but I still have this role model in the women’s category – Nafi Thiam. She is improving all those records and still getting better. I am like, ‘I want to do that too. I want to be like that.’”
But this was no easy competition for the decathlon world record-holder. His expected chief rival, Simon Ehammer, might have bowed out after three fouls in the long jump, but he had a new pretender to the throne in Norway’s Sander Skotheim, who set a national record of 6318 to win silver. It included PBs in the pole vault (5.00m) and high jump (2.19m).
The men’s pole vault saw Norway’s Sondre Guttormsen edge an ultra-tight competition that saw five men finish on a best of 5.80m, helping his nation to top the medal table. Greece’s Emmanouil Karalis and Piotr Lisek of Poland shared the silver, a fifth European indoor medal for the latter. Two of the unluckiest non-medallists at the championships were Germany’s Torben Blech and France’s Ethan Cormont, edged out solely on countback.
“I knew I had good chances of winning and it was definitely not expected, but goal accomplished,” said Guttormsen, who took full advantage of the absence of Sweden’s Armand Duplantis. “I do not make the start lists so who wants to show up, shows up. I am where I have got to be. And today, I was the best and it is about that.”
In the 60m hurdles finals, Finland’s Reetta Hurske and Switzerland’s Jason Joseph lived up to their favourite’s billing with two powerful performances, filled with foot-perfect precision. Hurske equalled her national record of 7.79, winning Finland its first ever medal in this event, coming home ahead of Nadine Visser of the Netherlands (7.84) and Ditaji Kambundji of Switzerland (7.91).
Reetta Hurske takes the European indoor 60m hurdles title ahead of Nadine Visser in Istanbul (© AFP / Getty Images)
“I put myself a little bit under pressure before the start, I do not know but I was so nervous,” said Hurske.
In the men’s race, Joseph set a European lead of 7.41 – putting him second on the European indoor all-time list – to win gold by a wide margin, with Poland’s Jakub Szymanski second in 7.56 and France’s Just Kwaou-Mathey third in 7.59.
“I knew I wasn't the best starter, I just needed to be calm and to continue doing my race,” said Joseph. “Getting to hurdle two I knew that I was getting back to the rhythm and after coming off hurdle three, I was pretty sure that I will win the race if everything goes right.”
Spain’s Enrique Llopis sustained a very heavy fall at the final hurdle and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
The men’s high jump saw Douwe Amels of the Netherlands set a national record of 2.31m to win his first major championship medal as a senior. Ukraine’s Andrii Protsenko took silver with 2.29m, edging Belgium’s Thomas Carmoy (2.29m) on countback.
“It is very emotional since I have been working towards a medal for a very long time,” said Amels, who won the European U23 title back in 2013. “This medal is also for my coach. She has been very supportive and helped me a lot. I tried not to think about the heights, but really focus on the competition itself. What a day.”
The men’s 800m saw Spain’s Adrian Ben edge victory in a thrilling finale, the 24-year-old moving past France’s Benjamin Robert on the home straight to win in 1:47.34, with Robert credited with the same time but three thousandths of a second behind. Belgium’s Eliott Crestan took bronze in 1:47.65.
Earlier in the day, Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou shook off his dislike of early mornings to continue his winning ways in the men’s long jump, the Greek star soaring 8.30m to again beat Sweden’s Thobias Montler (8.19m) to gold. Romania’s Gabriel Bitan took bronze with 8.00m.
“If the final was in the afternoon, we would definitely see jumps over 8.50m not only from me but also from the other jumpers,” Tentoglou said. “I tried to sleep early last night but then I was waking up like every hour. I was like: ‘Oh my God, how am I going through like this?’ I managed, but it was harder. Now it is time to look forward to the World Championships and I want to try to win gold.”
Miltiadis Tentoglou leaps to a third European indoor long jump title in Istanbul (© AFP / Getty Images)
Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh again saw off her continental rivals to take gold in the women’s high jump, clearing 1.98m. Dutch athlete Britt Weerman took silver with a national record of 1.96m while Ukraine’s Kateryna Tabashnyk took bronze with 1.94m.
“I am glad I was able to jump every height with the first attempt but of course, the 1.98m is not so good for me,” said Mahuchikh. “I expected to get a little bit higher. But it means that I should do some little changes and prepare for the bigger heights.”
In the men’s 4x400m relay, Belgium trailed leaders Spain through the opening 1500m, but through individual silver medallist Julien Watrin, they were in front when it mattered most, with Watrin powering by into the final turn. Their quartet of Dylan Borlee, Alexander Doom, Kevin Borlee and Watrin claimed gold in 3:05.83, with France coming through for silver in 3:06.52 and the Netherlands taking bronze with 3:06.59, aided by a 45.67-second split from anchor Liemarvin Bonavacia.
“The guys did the job so I just had to step up a little bit,” said Watrin, while Kevin Borlee paid tribute to his anchor: “I knew when I gave the baton to Julien that we will win.”
The women’s 4x400m saw an expected, but still exquisite, victory by the Netherlands, their opening trio of Lieke Klaver, Eveline Saalberg and Cathelijn Peeters ensuring that Femke Bol got the baton in front – and we knew what that meant. The 400m world indoor record-holder duly clocked a 49.58-second split to bring her nation home with a wide advantage and seal her second straight individual and relay double, clocking a championship record of 3:25.66, making them the third-fastest national team in history. Italy produced an inspired run in second, setting a national record of 3:28.61, with Poland claiming bronze in 3:29.31.
“I achieved everything I wanted this season, could not ask for more,” said Bol. “But it is just an indoor season and I miss my hurdles. See you in Budapest – we will be there.”
Cathal Dennehy for World Athletics