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Bukowiecki weathers the storm to land gold

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There was rain, and then there was the new reigning champion. Konrad Bukowiecki proved to be as good as expected as he won shot put gold in sensational fashion at the European Athletics Junior Championships in Eskilstuna on Thursday.

And as Poland's Bukowiecki triumphed with his third round effort of 22.62m, a personal best and championship record, he danced around by the side of the shot put ring to hail his superb distance.

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'I just felt it,' said Bukowiecki as he laughed about his golden jig. 'I just felt it was a good throw. I am happy, yet I thought I could go over 23m today but in the end, not in these weather conditions.'

Bukowiecki is 18 and he now adds this title to the world junior glory from 12 months ago and his next aim is to make the final at next month's IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

He is in a class of his own at this age level, winning by almost two metres as Romania's Andrei Toader was second with 20.78m from his second throw and Italy's Sebastiano Bianchetti was third with a personal best of 20.71m with his fifth effort.

Ironically, the day did not start as Bukowiecki would have planned because in early morning qualifying, the first round saw him produce a foul before his second effort took him through with 20.39m. 'I was very nervous before the first throw,' he said. 'It was a great relief after the second.'

He showed no signs of nerves in the final where he delivered a brilliant programme of 20.74m, 20.82m, his winning 22.62m, 21.90m, 21.82m and 22.47m.

He took his personal best from 22.21m to this championship record and as he achieved it, his rivals stood clapping - or, of course, they might have been applauding his dancing.

Either way, he has an aura over this event and looks set for a brilliant career at under-23 and senior level because he has this knack of delivering consistently when it matters as he has shown over the past year where he also won the Youth Olympic title.

Not all his targets were achieved on this memorable afternoon, though, as he still has to conquer the European Junior record with the 6kg shot of 22.73m which is held by Germany's double European champion David Storl.

But having smashed Storl's championship record of 22.40m today, that larger distance is within his reach and as Bukowiecki reminded us all: 'I still have another year left at this level.'

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