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Bukowiecki back to his best ahead of Belgrade

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A night of many fine European performances in Madrid at the final World Indoor Tour meeting of the winter was topped by former European indoor shot put champion Konrad Bukowiecki sending his implement out to a European-leading 21.91m.

Bukowiecki opened with 21.84m, which equalled the European-lead held by Croatia’s Filip Mihaljevic, and then improved the meeting record further to 21.91m in the fourth round, just nine centimetres short of his Polish indoor record of 22.00m.

“The last two years have been very hard with injuries and everything else but this winter I found my joy in throwing again, the type of joy I had when I was a junior,” reflected the man who holds a plethora of European age-group records and who is still only 24.

“In fact, when I threw 21.91 in the fourth round, I actually thought it was over 22 metres. I think going over 22 metres is just around the corner.

“I have one more meeting before [the World Athletics Indoor Championships in] Belgrade, which is the Polish national championships this weekend, and I just want to throw far in those two meetings, but I’m looking forward to Belgrade. I have special memories of the city and the arena as that’s where I won my European indoor title in 2017.”

Mihaljevic, who will also be in the hunt for a medal in Belgrade, kept up the pressure on Bukowiecki all the way through the competition with 21.49m in the third round and 21.69m in the fifth round before finishing with 21.83m, just one centimetre short of his national record. Italy's Zane Weir was third with 21.40m.

Another Polish victory in the Spanish capital came courtesy of Justyna Swiety-Ersetic’s 400m indoor personal best of 51.21.

Having lost her Polish indoor record to Anna Kielbasinska, who clocked 51.10 just under a month ago, Swiety-Ersetic came to Madrid with the target of recapturing the standard but just fell short.

“It was a very fast first 200m. I am pleased with the personal best, but I was still hoping to go faster,. I think going under 51 seconds is there," said the smiling reigning European outdoor champion over one lap of the track.

Modesta Morauskaite was second in a Lithuanian indoor record of 51.63, just edging ahead of Ireland's Phil Healy in the final 20 metres with the latter setting an indoor best of 51.66, just 0.08 shy of Karen Shinkins' 20-year-old national record.  

Spain got a memorable one-two in the men’s 60m hurdles – the host’s only triumph in the main part of the programme – when Asier Martinez just got the verdict over his domestic rival Enrique Llopis with both men given the same time of 7.56, just 0.01 shy of Martinez’s recent European U23 best.

In a blanket finish, Great Britain's David King finished third in a personal best of 7.57.

The Netherland’s Zoe Sedney quickly followed Martinez’s example down the straight of the Gallur Sports Centre and produced a strong display in the second half of her race to to win the women’s 60m hurdles in a personal best of 7.95, with Finland’s quick-starting Reetta Hurske second in 8.00.

Another candidate for the most thrilling race of the evening was the men’s 800m which saw the local pacemaker take the field through the first two laps in a very swift 50.55.

Great Britain’s Elliot Giles was at the front just after the halfway point before Spain’s Mariano Garcia sped forward to overtake him and lead with 200m to go. Giles then battled back to regain pole position off the last bend and then held off his rival to take the win, and this year’s World Indoor Tour title, with the pair clocking 1:45.43 and 1:45.82 respectively.

The women’s long jump was the first event of the night to be concluded. Great Britain’s Lorraine Ugen jumped 6.48m in the first round which lasted as the best mark until Spain’s Fatima Diame reached 6.51m in round five; but the Briton responded immediately with 6.67m, which sufficed for victory.

The men’s 3000m was advertised as an attempt on Adel Mechaal’s recent European record of 7:30.82 but unfortunately the runners were soon off the pace for such a time.

The 2000m checkpoint was reached in 5:05.32 and although the pace quickened in the final kilometre, Mechaal had no answer to the speed of the Ethiopian duo of Selemon Barega and Lamecha Girma, who clocked 7:34.03 and 7:34.09 respectively, although the Spaniard had an impressive last lap to finish third in 7:35.26.

The full results of the meeting can be found here.

European athletes took five of the 11 2022 World Indoor Tour titles.

Victories from Giles, Bukowiecki, Swiety-Ersetic and Ugen on the night in Madrid cemented their place at the top of the standings in their specialist events, joining Sweden’s Armand Duplantis who had already won the Tour pole vault crown prior to Madrid.

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