Piotr Lisek in Torun (© Jean Pierre Durand)
Piotr Lisek’s world-leading 5.91m clearance in the pole vault and a 22-metre blast in the shot put by Konrad Bukowiecki were among the key highlights at the fourth edition of the Copernicus Cup, the penultimate stop of the six-meeting 2018 IAAF World Indoor Tour, in Torun on Thursday (15).
Lisek controlled his own destiny in his event's final World Indoor Tour points chase, and he came through, but didn't take complete command until well into the competition. He needed a second attempt before sailing clear at 5.70m, a height Shawn Barber topped on his first go. But once that was out of the way, fortunes shifted at 5.91, with Lisek producing a towering clearance on his second attempt to clinch both the win and the series.
He was visibly tired at 6.01m and didn't come particularly close, but his earlier clearance indicated that another venture into six-metre territory is within his capabilities this indoor season.
Bukowiecki joins indoor 22-metre club
With his victory in the shot put, Bukowiecki took the first battle of the evening, but Czech Tomas Stanek won the season-long war to become the first 2018 Tour series winner. Despite that accolade and another fine performance, the evening clearly belonged to the 20-year-old Bukowiecki who took full advantage of the energetic capacity crowd of 5200 that filled every corner of Torun Arena.
Opening with a 20.83m effort, the European indoor champion unleashed a mammoth throw that landed exactly 22.00m from the circle to become just the 11th man to breach that still formidable barrier indoors. When the distance flashed on the scoreboard, Bukowiecki erupted into an infield celebration that would put West End professionals to shame.
But it also yanked the wind out of his sails. He fouled his remaining four throws while Stanek, the world leader at 22.17m, made his bid. Reaching 21.60m in the second round, he improved to 21.69 in the third before closing the competition with 21.83m in round six.
Michal Haratyk of Poland was third with 21.12m.
Meanwhile, Cristian Napoles took top honours in the triple jump with a 16.90m best effort, edging Alexis Copello by a mere centimetre. But those performances weren't enough to prevent Nelson Evora from taking the third series crown on offer this evening. The former world and Olympic champion finished third with 16.80m to conclude the series with 12 points, two more than four other jumpers, including the pair that beat him here.
Lasitskene maintains 2.00m form
Mariya Lasitskene won her 36th straight competition, topping 2.00m for the sixth time in her nine competitions this season.
Sailing clear at 1.85m, 1.90m, 1.95m and 2.00m on her first attempts, the two-time world champion outdoors then had the bar raised to 2.05, a would-be indoor lifetime best. Slightly distracted by the hurdlers in the centre of the infield and the triple jump competition going on behind her, she couldn't find her rhythm on her first two attempts, but produced a solid effort with her third, grazing the bar on the way down.
Ukraine's Yuliya Levchenko was second at 1.93m with Swede Erika Kinsey topping Levern Spencer of St. Lucia on countback at 1.90m.
Arrafi spoils Obiri’s party
Erratic early pacing in the women's 1500m ensured that an assault on the sub-4 barrier would never materialize. But a heated battle did.
The pre-race hype focused on world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri, who was making her first indoor 1500m start in two years. The 28-year-old played her part, too, biding her time behind the early leaders until taking command with just over two laps to go.
Soon after the bell though, Moroccan Rabab Arrafi, a finalist at the most recent Olympic Games and World Championships, made her ambitions known, upping the tempo, with Swede Meraf Bahta for company. Arrafi made her final move midway through the final turn, building a big enough cushion that the chase pack simply couldn't chip away. She clocked 4:04.76 to knock more than two seconds from her previous best, 0.13 ahead of Bahta. Obiri was another step behind in 4:05.04, also a lifetime best.
The Polish hit parade continued in the men's 800m where Adam Kszczot put on a master class in the sit-and-kick. A distant fifth at the bell, the two-time world indoor silver medallist began to move up as the field entered the final back straight, working his way to third as he approached the final bend. He powered past the remaining two, Kenyan Nicholas Kipkoech and Swede Andreas Kramer, as he hit the straight en route to his third Tour victory, this time in 1:46.75. With 30 points, the Pole will bring an insurmountable lead to Glasgow in ten days time, should he choose to compete.
Kipkoech (1:47.22) was second and Kramer (1:47.36) third.
400m world lead for Sprunger
The second world lead of the night came courtesy of Lea Sprunger who dominated the 400m for the third time in as many Tour outings. Never threatened, the Swiss forged on to a 51.28 run, eclipsing her 51.46 indoor best and approaching her 51.09 outdoor national record.
Justyna Swiety-Ersetic was a distant second in 51.78, a Polish national record.
Pamela Dutkiewicz prevailed in the latest chapter of the women's 60m hurdles battles, pulling away from Norwegian Isabelle Pedersen over the final 10 metres after the pair ran virtually even over the first four barriers. The German clocked 7.85, ultimately well clear of Pedersen's 7.94.
Earlier, a false start disqualification sent Belarusian Alina Talay to the spectator stands.
The men's 60m, which closed out the evening, was much closer with Slovak Jan Volko edging Andrew Fisher of Bahrain by 0.02 in 6.57.
Off of the Tour programme
A fiercely competitive battle in the men's 1500m got the programme off to a rousing start. Yesterday, Marcin Lewandowski promised an assault on his four-year-old national record, a pledge he kept, but ultimately coming up just a few feet short.
The Pole ran from the front in the waning stages before Ethiopian Taresa Tolosa took command with 300 metres remaining. Upping the tempo, the lanky 19-year-old lead at the bell, with Lewandowski, Briton Charles Grice and Czech Jakub Holusa following single file. On the back straight, Lewandowski made one last attempt to retake the lead, but Tolosa, the 2016 world U20 silver medallist, shook him off with ease, winning in 3:37.41, an indoor best by more than two seconds. Lewandowski was next in 3:37.67, 0.30 shy of his national standard, with Holusa crossing next in 3:37.91.
Another home victory came in the women’s 800m, with 1500m specialist Angelika Cichocka kicking away from Ukraine's Olha Lyakhova over the final leap to prevail in 2:00.76. Lyakhova held on for second in 2:01.08 with Selina Buchel of Switzerland, an early leader, finishing third in 2:01.08.
Luka Janezic of Slovenia, last year's European U23 champion, reeled in two-time world champion Pavel Maslak in the waning metres to take the men's 400m in 46.03, just 0.01 from the national record he set in Vienna last month. Maslak was second in 46.17.
Marie Josee Ta Lou won the women's 60m, pulling away from Dina Asher-Smith to edge the Briton 7.11 to 7.14. Ezinne Okparaebo of Norway was third in 7.17.
And in a close contest, Milan Trajkovic took the men's 60m hurdles, edging Balazs Baji by a scant 0.01 in 7.59.
After a ten-day break to accommodate national indoor championships, the World Indoor Tour concludes in Glasgow on Sunday, 25 February.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF