Greece’s Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou became the first man to secure a third consecutive long jump title at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Istanbul on Sunday (5) thanks to a first-round effort of 8.30m that proved beyond his rivals.
That imperious performance also maintained the 24-year-old from Grevena’s perfect record in European competition, where he has also won outdoor gold in 2018 and 2022.
Tentoglou’s efforts were registered with glee by his many flag-brandishing followers in the stand opposite the pit, and after six rounds the blue and white horizontal stripes were still being flourished.
Sweden’s Thobias Montler, as so often before, was the man who came closest to challenging Tentoglou as he recorded 8.19m, equalling his season’s best.
Bronze went to Romania’s Gabriel Bitan with 8.00m.
“If the final was in the afternoon, we would definitely see jumps over 8.50 not only from me but also from the other jumpers,” Tentoglou said. “I am in very good shape. The early morning competitions affect the result for sure.
“For example, I tried to sleep early last night but then I was waking up like every hour. I was like: ‘Oh my God, how am I going through like this?’ OK, I managed but it was harder. Now it is time to look forward to the world championships and I want to try to win gold of course.”
This is the only missing title from Tentoglou's vast collection of accolades.
Mahuchikh in command again in the high jump final
Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh, who had endured what she described as the “most nervous” qualification of her life to reach this morning’s women’s high jump, retained her title in perfect fashion.
First-time clearances at 1.91m, 1.94m, 1.96m and 1.98m earned the 21-year-old another gold to set alongside the one secured in Torun two years ago.
But the forecast 1-2-3 for Ukrainian jumpers did not come to pass as 19-year-old Britt Weerman of the Netherlands forced her way into silver position by equalling her national record at 1.96m at the end of what was another perfect sequence of five first-time successes.
"The qualification was so nervous but I used the two days to relax and to recover, and today, I can celebrate that I managed to defend my title. I am glad I was able to jump every height with the first attempt but of course, the 1.98m is not so good for me. I expected to get a little bit higher," said Mahuchikh, who also landed the European outdoor title in Munich last summer.
Mahuchikh’s compatriot Kateryna Tabashnyk secured bronze on countback as one of three athletes on 1.94m, the others being Serbia’s 17-year-old European outdoor bronze medallist Angelina Topic, equalling her own national and world indoor U20 record, and the third Ukrainian, Yuliia Levchenko.
The freshly established champion, who fled Russian bombardment of her home city of Dnipropetrovsk last year and spent three days travelling by car to Belgrade before winning the world indoor title, concluded with three attempts at 2.03m, of which the first was tantalisingly close.
Mayer re-establishes overall lead in the heptathlon
Fists clenched, roaring, Kevin Mayer fully registered his satisfaction at regaining the lead in the heptathlon after clocking 7.76 - just 0.08 off his best - in the 60m hurdles that got the second day of the competition underway.
That was enough to re-establish the 31-year-old world champion and world record-holder at the top of the standings with 4517 points, seven points ahead of the 20-year-old Norwegian Sander Skotheim, whose exuberant championship best effort of 2.19m in the high jump had given him a 67 points margin overnight.
Barring accident or injury, with the pole vault and 1000 metres to come, France’s defending champion looks on track to earn a third title.
However, Skotheim continued to take the battle to the world champion in the penultimate event, recording a personal best of 5.00m, but once Mayer had posted first-time clearances of 5.00m, 5.20m and 5.30m the odds were on him to earn a third title.
He goes into the concluding 1000m on 5521 points, with a lead of 101 points.
Nadine Visser of the Netherlands, seeking a hat-trick of women’s 60m hurdles titles, looked composed as she won the first semifinal in 7.93.
But there was only a small margin between her and Denmark’s swiftly improving Mette Graversgaard, who lowered the national record of 7.96 she set yesterday to 7.94 in following Visser home.
And the second semifinal saw the Finnish athlete who is the fastest on the field on paper with her 7.79 from Madrid, Reetta Hurske, underlining her ambitions with a clear win in 7.85.
It was the fastest semifinal time in these Championships since Bulgaria’s Yordanka Donkova ran 7.82 in 1987.
France’s world indoor champion Cyrena Samba-Mayela missed out on the fourth qualifying spot by 0.003 after she and Hungary’s Grete Kerekes, for whom it was a personal best, had clocked 8.00.
Tonight’s final looks likely to be one of the most intensively contested on the programme.
In the men’s 60m hurdles, Switzerland’s Jason Joseph was fastest qualifier in 7.50, followed by Jakub Szymanski on 7.54, Enrique Llopis of Spain on 7.58 and France’s Just Kwaou-Mathey on 7.61.
Proceedings ended with that most heart-warming of sounds – the Turkish national anthem – accompanying the gold medal presentation to Tugba Danismaz following last night’s women’s triple jump final.
Mike Rowbottom for European Athletics