Pre-race favourite Jolanda Kallabis pulled away in the closing stages in devastating fashion to secure an impressive victory in the 2000m steeplechase in a championship record of 6:20.22.
In the first track final of the third day of the Jerusalem 2022 European Athletics U18 Championships, the tall German made a decisive break with 500 metres remaining and in the space of just over a lap, Kallabis eked out a winning margin of almost eight seconds on her nearest rival.
Defying the sweltering conditions, Kallabis just missed the European U18 best of 6:19.23 but the 17-year-old shattered the championship record of 6:34.52 which dates back to the first edition which was held in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2016.
With Kallabis forging a solo and destructive path to victory, the race for silver was won by her German teammate Adia Budde (6:28.09) who got the better of Denmark’s European U20 3000m silver medallist Sofia Thøgersen in 6:29.68. All three medallists were inside the previous championship record.
Like Thøgersen, Kallabis also competed at U20 level in Tallinn last summer - albeit on the flat in the 1500m - and she credits that experience for being invaluable in the context of these championships.
“Competing in Tallinn last year was perfect, because I was much more relaxed here than back then - I already knew what the atmosphere was going to be like, how the call room and everything else works, so I am glad that I went to Tallinn last year,” said Kallabis.
Kallabis comes from an athletics family. Her mother is her coach and her father Damian will be a recognisable name to athletics aficionados as he won the 3000m steeplechase title at the Budapest 1998 European Athletics Championships.
“Before the race, my dad told me to do it like he did at the European Championships in 1998. I couldn't really hear him during the race, but I already talked to him and he said he was really, really proud, and that I did it perfectly,” she said.
In the men's shot put final, Turkey's Ali Peker only produced one valid throw but that mark of 21.03m yielded the title by almost one metre from Germany's Georg Harpf (20.16m) and Finland's Aatu Kangasniemi (19.48m).
"I threw 21.03 metres which is lower than my personal best - 21.73m - I still think it is a good throw and I am happy anyway. I only had a valid throw, which was a good one, but the fact I had so many fouls is bad. I don't know why it happened because I wasn't feeling nervous at all - but my last throw was actually really bad," he said.
Full results here.