The World Athletics Continental Tour commenced in Europe this weekend with no fewer than five Challenger events, the first of 138 World Athletics Continental Tour Silver, Bronze and Challenger events to take place in Europe over the next four months.
At the Belfast Irish Milers Meet on Saturday (13) afternoon, European finalist Louise Shanahan won a high quality 800m in 1:59.53 - just 0.11 shy of her national record - to beat 19-year-old Abigail Ives who broke the 2:00-barrier for the first time in her career with 1:59.92.
Ives, who will be targeting the European Athletics U20 Championships in Jerusalem in August, becomes only the fourth British junior to break the 2:00-barrier for 800m after Keely Hodgkinson (1:55.88), Charlotte Moore (1:59.75) and Jessica Judd (1:59.77).
Reigning European U23 champion Isabel Boffey was third in a lifetime best of 2:00.18 with two-time European 1500m medallist Ciara Mageean fourth in 2:00.36.
Other highlights included 20-year-old Brit Ethan Hussey winning the men’s 800m in a lifetime best of 1:46.18 and Irish 1500m record-holder Andrew Coscoran winning the 3000m in 7:50.87 ahead of reigning European U20 champion Nick Griggs who set a national U20 record of 7:53.24.
Sharlene Mawdsley won the 400m in 51.75 ahead of 2016 European 4x400m champion Seren Bundy-Davies whose second-place time of 52.76 was her fastest time in seven years.
At the Meeting Atletismo Ibiza on Saturday (13), European champion Mariano Garcia opened his outdoor season with victory in the 800m in 1:47.75.
European 400m bronze medallist Alex Haydock-Wilson clocked 15.34 and 32.29 in the 150m and 300m respectively in the Internationales Läufermeeting Pliezhausen and Matje Kolberg won the 1000m in a world leading 2:37.85.
European cross country bronze medallist Alina Reh also won the 3000m in a solo 8:53.37.
At the Kalamata Street Pole Vault on Friday (12) evening, Italy's Sonia Malavasi and Slovenia's Robert Renner took the victories with 4.42m and 5.45m respectively.
Mahuchikh clears a world lead of 2.00m in Nairobi
At the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi on Saturday (13), Yaroslava Mahuchikh opened her outdoor season with a world leading 2.00m clearance in the high jump.
Returning to the venue where she won the world U18 title in Nairobi in 2017 when she was only 15, Mahuchikh took ownership of the world lead with a second-time clearance at 2.00m before ending her competition.
Olympic and European champion Wojciech Nowicki also set a world leading mark of 79.78m in the hammer while world record-holder Anita Wlodarczyk returned to competition after a leg fracture with a third-place finish in the women’s hammer with 70.27m.
There was also an unlikely but sensational throw in the men’s javelin from Timothy Herman. The European finalist added almost seven metres to his lifetime best with his first round throw of 87.35m.
His first round standard bearer was sufficient for victory over world champion Anderson Peters from Grenada (85.72m) and Egypt’s Ihab Abdelrahman (81.04m).
Combined events stars impress in individual events
European decathlon silver medallist Simon Ehammer opened his outdoor campaign with strong performances in his two favourite events in Basel on Saturday (13).
Ehammer jumped 8.12m in the long jump and clocked a lifetime best of 13.42 in the 110m hurdles. He also cleared 4.70m in the pole vault before poor weather forced the abandonment of the competition.
Adrianna Sulek was also swift over the barriers in Warsaw on Saturday (13).
In her first competition since the historic pentathlon at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Istanbul where she also surpassed the world record to win silver with 5014 points, Sulek sped to a 13.11 clocking in the 100m hurdles and reached out to 13.71m in the shot put.
Steven Mills for European Athletics