European bronze medallists Shanice Craft and Sara Fantini both set early-season world leads on their way to victory in Sunday’s second day of the European Throwing Cup in Leiria, Portugal on Sunday (12).
For Germany’s Craft, she closed out the winter unbeaten as she won the women’s discus. Last month she set an indoor world best at the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin and also won the German Winter Championships in Halle. At Portugal’s National Throwing Centre, she uncorked one of the longest throws in her career to win with a first round 64.88m, an outdoor world lead for the three-time European bronze medallist (2014, 2016, 2018).
Home hope and 2021 European Throwing Cup winner Lilliana Ca of Portugal opened with three fouls, but finally came to the party with a best of 64.82m which was good enough for second place. France’s highly experienced 2016 Olympic silver medallist Melina Robert-Michon - a three-time winner in the Cup - was third with 61.70m.
“I am very happy with the result,” commented Craft. “The first one was for the team and the next throws, I tried to improve my technique. We were working on some things and it was good. I am very happy with the winter season.” Norway’s Lotta Flatum won the U23 competition with 56.54m.
Fantastic Fantini upgrades to gold
Italy’s European bronze medallist Sara Fantini - third 12 months ago in the Cup at the same venue - turned the tables on her fellow medallists from Munich 2022, winning the women’s hammer with a world-leading 73.26m in the first round.
European champion Bianca Ghelber of Romania had to settle for second on this occasion. She too produced her best in the first round with 71.52m.
Denmark’s Katrine Koch Jacobsen was third with a fifth round 71.08m while Poland’s Ewa Różańska, European silver medallist last year, was sixth, her best throw of 69.18m coming in the first round.
Afterwards, a beaming Fantini said: “The first throw was very long, so that’s perfect. The others, I had some problems. But we will fix it for the outdoor season.
“The best thing about today is that I came into the circle very, very present. I really knew that I could do this distance. I think the bond between the mentality and my body was really good.”
The U23 competition was won by former European U20 champion Valeriya Ivanenko-Kyrylina with a final round 65.51m. Ireland’s Nicola Tuthill was second in an U23 national record of 64.44m and world U20 champion Rachele Mori of Italy was third with 62.79m.
Kokoshko shocks Weir in shot put
European indoor bronze medallist Roman Kokoshko upgraded to gold with a crowd-pleasing win the men’s shot put. The Ukrainian has made Portugal his adopted home in the last year and he thrived off a supportive crowd as he landed victory with a fifth round 21.52m throw.
Recently crowned European indoor gold medallist and defending Cup champion Zane Weir was not able to replicate his best form and had to settle for third with 20.98m. Luxembourg’s Bob Bertemes, a disappointing fifth in Istanbul after leading the European lists ahead of the championships, was second with a third round 21.21m.
European U20 champion Muhamet Ramadani of Kosovo won the men’s U23 shot put with a solid 19.28m, going one place better than his result at the same meeting last year.
Ramos wins javelin on home soil
The men’s javelin saw a home victory for Portuguese record holder Leandro Ramos in the nearby Leiria Municipal Stadium. He gave a high-energy performance, frequently tumbling upon release, but he couldn’t breach the 80 metre line. His best was 78.57m which gave him a narrow one centimetre victory over Iceland’s Dagbjartur Dadi Jonsson. Spain’s Manu Quijera was third with 78.42m.
The best performance of the day actually came in the men's U23 javelin. Ukraine's reigning world U20 champion Artur Felfner justified his status as pre-meeting favourite. He was the only competitor to go over 80 metres with a first round throw of 80.09m and it was more than good enough to see off second placed Lenny Brisseault of France with a best of 72.55m.
“I need some work with the technique and I think we will get more metres. Next time will be better because I am ready and I know it,” said Felfner, who is still only 19. “I don’t have power, but I throw well because I have technique and speed.”
Felfner's impressive win also means that he will enter consideration as a serious title contender at this year's European Athletics U23 Championships in Espoo, Finland in July.
Ukraine topped the medal table with four gold medals and one silver, ahead of Germany with two golds, two silvers and one bronze. Hosts Portugal were third with two golds and one silver.
Full results here.
The entire Leiria 2023 European Throwing Cup was live streamed on the European Athletics YouTube channel and can be replayed here.
Chris Broadbent for European Athletics