Yuliya Levchenko tops 2.02m in Minsk (Getty Images) © Copyright

Levchenko tops 2.02m in Minsk as Europe powers to duel match victory over USA

Yuliya Levchenko cleared 2.02 to take an upset victory in the high jump to highlight the second day of The Match, a duel between the United States and a united European squad in Minsk, Belarus, on Tuesday (9).

Levchenko, 21, was on fire, produceing a flawless scorecard in seven leaps up to and including her winning height which added one centimetre to the personal best she set at the World Championships in London two years ago. She bowed out at 2.04m, but with one especially close attempt, showed that that height was well within her capabilities this season.

"Now I'm going to Doha," said Levchenko, who jumped to surprise silver in London two years ago. "It will be new start, new way and, of course, new results. I hope that everything will go on the best way."

The Ukrainian also inflicted a rare defeat upon Mariya Lasitskene, the reigning world champion, who topped 1.98m but couldn't finish better than third, taking a back seat to another Ukrainian jumper, Iryna Herashchenko, who also topped 1.98m, just one centimetre shy of the career best she set earlier this season.

That top-three finish for Team Europe was one of several for the 'hosts', contributing to their convincing 724.5 to 601.5 victory in what organisers hope will be a regular fixtures on the international calendar.

Another came in the men's javelin competition, dominated by world champion Johannes Vetter.

The German reached a 90.03m season's best in the third round, his first blast beyond 90 metres this year. He is just the second man to throw beyond that barrier in 2019; the other, Magnus Kirt, was second with 88.91m on a night that clearly belonged to Vetter who backed up his big throw with 88.31m, 88.03m and 87.68m efforts.

Lithuania’s Edis Matusevicius was a distant third with 83.53m.

Anna Ryzhykova also led a top-three showing in the 400m hurdles in 55.32, in a race that left the top American entrant, Ashley Spencer, laying face down on the track after she took a tumble over the final barrier. 

In the men's discus, it was Austrian Lukas Weishaidinger's turn to lead a top-three finish for the continental squad, dominating the proceedings with a third round 67.22m effort. Piotr Malachowski of Poland was second with 64.89m.

Things went even better in the men's pole vault where Armand Duplantis led Europe to a top-four sweep. The teenager topped 5.85m on his first attempt to seal the win, then went on to take two jumps at 5.90m before bowing out with a strong effort at 6.00m.

Poles Piotr Lisek and Pawel Wojciechowski topped 5.80m and 5.75m respectively to finish second and third with Konstadinos Filippidis of Greece fourth, also at 5.75m, to secure the maximum 27 points for Europe.

In the 110m hurdles, Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega prevailed in one of the biggest showdowns of the meet, pulling away from former world champion Sergey Shubenkov as the pair approached the seventh hurdle. From there, Ortega was untouchable winning in 13.21 to the authorised neutral athlete's 13.39.

Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova thrilled her hometown crowd with a spirited victory in the long jump, reaching 6.74m in the third round to hold off Ukraine's Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk by one centimetre. Reigning world champion Brittney Reese of the US was just another two centimetres back withy 6.71m to finish third.

Joanna Fiodorow of Poland took the hammer throw with a 74.34m effort, not far from her 74.71m season's best. Hanna Malyshik of Belarus was second with 72.70m to give Europe a 1-2 finish in that event.

Amel Tuka and Adam Kszczot finished 1-2 in the men's 800m, the former passing the latter in the waning stages.

Kate Grace delivered one of the strongest performances on the track for the US squad, taking a decisive 1500m victory in 4:02.49, a lifetime best for the 30-year-old 2016 Olympic finalist. Teammate Shannon Osika was second in 4:04.58 with Eilish McColgan finishing third for Europe clocking 4:05.58.

Maggie Ewen, who won NCAA titles in the shot put, discus and hammer throw during her collegiate career, put some of that versatility on display in the shot put, winning with a 19.47m personal best. Fanny Roos broke through the 19-metre barrier for the first time with a 19.06m throw, a Swedish national record, to finish second.

Ramil Guliyev and Brittany Brown turned in dominant performances in their respective 200m contests, the world champion clocking 20.16 in the men's race and Brown, the runner-up at this year's US championships, 22.61 in the women's.

Elsewhere, Chris Benard of the US was the only man to breach the 17-metre line in the triple jump, bounding to a 17.01m season's best. Teammate Dave Kendziera clocked 48.99 to win the 400m hurdles and Sharika Nelvis took the women's 100m hurdles in 12.80. And Ben Blankenship, who was third in the 1500m yesterday, held off Spaniard Adel Mechaal to win the 3000m by 0.07 in 7:57.48.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF