Bol and Tentoglou fulfil their roles as gold medal favourites in Budapest

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  • Bol and Tentoglou fulfil their roles as gold medal favourites in Budapest

The Netherlands’ Femke Bol and Greece’s Miltiardis Tentoglou fulfilled their role as favourites to take the Budapest 23 world titles in the 400m hurdles and long jump on Thursday.

Bol, last year’s European Athlete of the Year, dominated her race from the gun and was clearly ahead of a classy field, as might be expected for a World Athletics Championships final by the halfway stage in the race.

Running in lane four, coming into the home straight had a lead of about two metres but that extended to five by the finish line as he rivals all tired quicker and more acutely than the Dutchwoman.

Bol’s winning time of 51.70 has only been beaten by herself among European runners and was just 0,25 shy of her European record of 51.25 set at the London Diamond League meeting last month.

A indication of her dominance was that she won by more than a second, a yawning gap over one lap of the track with barriers and many European national records without 10 hurdles are actually slower than Bol’s winning time.

"It wasn't easy to forget what happened in the final metres of the mixed relay but my team was around me and they put me at my ease. I knew that the 400m hurdles would be a chance to show up and I was confident. I took the first few hurdles fast and then I could run my rhythm. I think I have just had the best first 200 metres ever," reflected Bol.

She then delighted a sizable contingent of Dutch fans who had made the trip to the Hungarian capital, posing for selfies with many of them.

Miltiardis Tentoglou has always been known as someone who never throws in the towel and that was never more evident than in Budapest.

Greece’s reigning Olympic champion and two-time defending champion opened with a European-leading 8.50m but one round later Jamaica’s Wayne Pinnock equalled that distance and went ahead on the basis of a better second jump.

Neither man could improve during the next three rounds – with Tentoglou also getting in jumps of 8.39m and 8.30m in the third and fifth rounds – and so it came down to the last two jumps of the competition.

With Tentoglou going first he flew out to 8.52m but Pinnock still had one more jump. After a tense few moments, Pinnock landed at 8.38m and Greece were able to add their name to the list of victorious European Athletics Member Federations in Budapest.

Mathew Hudson-Smith, in lane four, led for about 393 metres in the 400m final but had to settle for second as he tired slightly over the final Few metres and Jamaica’s inspired Antonio Watson went past him two lanes to his outside.

Watson won in 44.22 while Hudson-Smith came home in 44.31, a time that would have been a European record prior to the Briton running 44.26 in his semi-final.

"I've come here for the gold medal. I'm an athlete, so obviously I always want the gold. It didn't happen. I started very strong. I controlled the race, and I was feeling OK. But the last 25 to 30 metres became hard for me. I've hardly raced. I just had to hang on, keep working.," reflected the Briton after upgrading his bronze from last year.

Azerbaijan’s Hanna Skydan couldn’t reproduce the form that saw her lead the hammer qualifiers with a national record 77.10m – a distance which would have earned her the silver medal in the final – and had to settle for fourth.

She opened with 74.18m but couldn’t improve with her other five throws. Nevertheless, it was the best performance ever by an athlete from her country at the World Athletics Championships.

Spain’s 2023 European indoor champion Adrian Ben produced a stunning turn of speed over the final 50 metres to slip through on the inside of his semi and qualify for Saturday’s final with a personal best of 1:43.92.

Great Britain’s Ben Pattison also progressed to the final as a fastest non-automatic qualifier.

British sprinters Daryll Neita and Dina Asher-Smith both impressed when finishing second in their 200m semi-finals to qualify for Friday’s final.

Neita, who has two world championships 4x100m silver medals to her name from 2017 and 2019, ran a personal best and European-leading 22.21 while the 2019 world 200m champion was not far behind on the clock with 22.28.

Great Britain’s 100m bronze medallist Zharnel Hughes was the only European to make the men's 200m final but very comfortably finished second in his semi in 20.02. 

Five Europeans qualified for Sunday’s 5000m final all from the first of two heats. Spain’s Mohamed Katir cruised home to win in 13:35.90 and the men who followed him across the line in qualifying positions included his compatriot Ouassim Oumaiz, the Norwegian pair of Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Narve Gilje Nordas and France’s Jimmy Gressier.

“I don't feel any better today [after his shock loss in the 1500m on Wednesday night] but I was able to qualify for the final and that was the goal. Now I have two more days to recover and get back to my best shape for this final,” reflected Ingebrigtsen, with his 1500m defeat by Britain’s Josh Kerr still clearly on his mind.

 World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 full results and timetable can be found here.

Phil Minshull for European Athletics

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