A slew of championship records fell on the second evening session at the Jerusalem 2022 European Athletics U18 Championships in the Givat Ram Stadium on Tuesday (5).
The track session included three successive championship record performances on the track which began with Great Britain’s Mia McIntosh winning the 100m hurdles title, one of three gold medals for the Brits on day two.
McIntosh was the fastest in the heats and semifinals and the 17-year-old, who has been testing herself against the seniors this summer, made light work of the U18 76.2 centimetre barriers and her reward was a championship record of 13.05 - only 0.07 shy of the European U18 best held by world indoor champion Cyrena Samba-Mayela from France.
“At the start of my semi, I felt very fatigued, but I didn't do too much between the rounds, and did a quick warm up, that was it. I've been racing some seniors this year, and it has been incredible to see what they can do and how they do it. I can't wait to be in the mix of them all,” she said.
After gold for Mia, there was gold for Nia as her near namesake Nia Wedderburn-Goodison won the 100m title in a championship record of 11.33. Wedderburn-Goodison ran even faster in the semifinal but her time of 11.31 was marginally wind-aided.
There was also a rare men’s sprinting gold medal for Poland at 16-year-old Marek Zakrzewski emerged into the fray with three exceptional performances - all of which were faster than the previous championship record of 10.43.
After a statement albeit wind-aided 10.29 clocking in the heat, Zakrzewski secured the championship record in wind legal conditions with 10.33 in his semifinal before running even faster in the final, stopping the clock at 10.32 to hold off the mercurial Swede Isak Hughes in the adjacent lane in 10.36.
Furlani amazes with 8.04m long jump
But perhaps the most exceptional performance of the day came from Italy’s super talented prospect Mattia Furlani. The 17-year-old has impressed in recent seasons with his high jump prowess but Furlani is making extraordinary - if not unprecedented progress - in the long jump.
In only his third serious outdoor competition in the event - and only his second if you exclude qualifying - Furlani soared over the eight metre-line with his very first attempt with 8.04m to shatter the championship record and become the first European U18 in history to break this barrier outdoors.
Furlani couldn’t quite recapture this magic with his subsequent jumps but nor did he need to. The Italian passed his fifth and sixth round attempts in order to preserve some energy for the high jump final having also qualified for that event this evening.
“To be honest, I didn't expect something like this at my first attempt, especially after having gone through the qualification in the high jump just before. The goal here is to give it my all in both events, and whatever happens, I will be pleased with it,” he said.
“All I can think right now is that I want to cry, because I am so proud of myself.”
In the discus, Ukraine’s Mykhailo Brudin had already wrapped up the gold medal before he stepped into the discus circle for the final time.
With his sixth round attempt, Brudin went even further and broke the championship record with 64.51m. The 17-year-old, who has been based in Spain after being displaced by the Russian invasion in February, dedicated his victory to his grandmother Faina Melnik, the 1972 Olympic champion who died in 2016.
Jana Koscak was crowned heptathlon champion and the Croatian moved to fifth on the European U18 all-time list with a score of 6106 points despite nursing an elbow injury which limited her to just one throw in the javelin, arguably her best event.
But despite being some 10 metres down on her lifetime best with her throw of 40.58m, Koscak still won by more than 300 points from Hungary's Sarolta Kriszt (5794 points) and Germany's Pia Messing (5690 points).
"My favourite event has always been the High Jump, and probaly the Javelin. I am a little disappointed I could only do one throw due to hurting the ligaments in my elbow - my personal best in the Javelin is 11 metres further than what I threw today, so of course I am disappointed. It is still a great feeling overall," said Koscak who led proceedings from the very first event.
Valentina Savva from Cyprus won the first gold medal of the championships in the hammer with 70.28m.
And the Cypriot success didn’t stop there as Emilia Kolokotroni won bronze with 65.35m. There could even be even more medalware to celebrate tomorrow with Iosif Kesidis the outstanding favourite in the men’s final.
"I started in athletics in the long jump, but one day a coach saw me and suggested I should try the Hammer instead because of the way I am built. I love it so much, it's part of my life now," said Savva.
Full results here.