Stepping into the discus ring inside the hallowed Olympic Stadium in Munich for the first time, Slovenia’s Kristjan Ceh not only handsomely surpassed the qualifying line for the discus final but also took ownership of the championship record.
The reigning world champion needed a throw of 66 metres to secure an automatic passage through to the final and Ceh achieved that with aplomb, launching the discus out to 69.06m to eclipse the championship record of 68.87m set by the now-retired Pole Piotr Malachowski in 2010.
Ceh’s massive effort in qualifying opens up the tantalising prospect of the 70 metre-barrier being broken for the first time in European Athletics Championships history.
The Slovenian acknowledged in his in-stadium interview that a worsening weather forecast could prove to be an adverse factor but he still hopes he can add even more distance to his fresh championship record.
“My coach [Gerd Kanter] said that I am still in good shape even after the World Championships. I don't have that good feeling but still I managed to throw a secure throw which is also the championship record.
“After winning the world title I hope to win a European title too. Of course, my confidence is really high right now so I hope I can throw even further in the final,” he said.
But that is not to say the final is a foregone conclusion. In a near-repeat of the World Athletics Championships, Ceh will face stern opposition from Lithuanians Andrius Gudzius (66.70m) and Mykolas Alekna (65.48m) and reigning Olympic champion Daniel Stahl from Sweden (66.39m).
Vintage Thiam clears 1.98m championship best
Barring disaster or some sort of force majeure, Nafissatou Thiam looks set to land yet another major title in the heptathlon.
And if she clinches gold in Munich, she would complete her second set of major titles in the combined events one day before her 28th birthday.
Thiam kept pace with Annik Kalin (13.23) and her Belgian teammate Noor Vidts (13.29) with a third-place finish in the 100m hurdles in 13.34 before stamping her authority on the seven event competition with a championship best of 1.98m - improving her eight-year-old record by one centimetre - to accumulate 1211 points from the high jump.
After two events, Thiam has amassed 2285 points and leads the overall standings by almost 200 points from Vidts (2097 points) and Poland’s Adrianna Sulek (2080 points).
Under her coach’s orders, Germany’s Carolina Krafzik qualified fastest for the women’s 400m hurdles semifinal with a lifetime best.
Buoyed by a sparse but vocal crowd in the Olympic Stadium, an inspired Krafzik stopped the clock at a lifetime best of 54.32 to win the third heat by a Femke Bol-esque winning margin from Switzerland’s former European U20 champion Yasmin Giger in 56.69.
A modest pre-championship season’s best of 55.73 proved insufficient to provide Krafzik with a first round BYE which are granted to the top-12 performers but the 27-year-old suddenly finds herself in medal contention. Her time puts her fifth on the 2022 European list which is headed by Bol who runs in tonight’s 400m final before turning her focus to the barriers.
“The ‘order’ of my coach was to run a PB, to show what I am capable of doing. So this will give me a good position for the semi-final. I also wanted to know how good my shape is. This heat was very impressive, I was not aware that I was 30 metres ahead of the others. The goal was simply to get a PB. The atmosphere is great, I am enjoying it very much,” said Krafzik.
France’s Victor Coroller led the men’s 400m hurdles qualifying with 49.35 from Great Britain’s Jacob Paul (49.40) and Switzerland’s Julien Bonvin (49.41). The semifinals take place tomorrow morning when the likes of reigning European and Olympic champion Karsten Warholm join proceedings.
There was more good news for Germany in the triple jump qualifying. Neele Eckhardt-Noack set a lifetime best of 14.53m to lead the two pools from Olympic silver medallist Patricia Mamona from Portugal (14.45m) and Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (14.36m), the latter also making yesterday’s long jump final.
Full results here.