With ten victories across the weekend - including one in the 1500m from team captain Marcin Lewandowski who was hoisted aloft on the podium with the trophy in hand - the Polish team celebrated a landmark weekend in Bydgoszcz, winning the European Athletics Team Championships Super League title for the first time.
This was a particularly poignant win as not only did it come on home turf in front of a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd at the Zawisza Stadium, it also came in the centenary year of the Polish Athletic Association. The Polish cohort accrued 345 points across the 40 events for a clear win ahead of reigning champions Germany who climbed up the standings on the second day to finish second (317.5) just ahead of France (316.5) and Italy (316).
Five victories on the Saturday were followed by five more on the Sunday which began with world indoor champion Adam Kszczot winning the 800m as expected for a third time - his first win coming back in 2011.
There is going to be some party in Bydgoszcz tonight. #ETCH2019— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) August 11, 2019
This might not have been his very best race tactically but Kszczot did not panic after losing his position on the back straight, motoring from sixth to first in the home straight to win in 1:46.97 from Great Britain’s Jamie Webb (1:47.25) and Spain’s European indoor champion Alvaro de Arriba (1:47.48).
Kszczot’s victory in the 800m was followed by another win in this competition from Sofia Ennaoui. Twice a winner in the 3000m, Ennaoui dropped down to the 1500m - very much her specialist distance - which she won with her trademark furious finish in 4:08.37 ahead of Germany’s Caterina Granz (4:08.52) with Czech Republic’s Kriistina Maki a surprise third in 4:09.12.
“I was tired and didn’t feel fresh so today’s result was really great,” said Ennaoui. “I was prepared for different solutions; I had several strategies.”
In the pole vault, Piotr Lisek ended Renaud Lavillenie’s unbeaten reign at the European Athletics Team Championships which goes all the way back to 2011. Fresh from two six metre-plus vaults in the last month, Lisek delighted the crowd along the top bend with first-time clearances at 5.46m, 5.66m and 5.71m before sealing maximum points ahead of Sweden’s Melker Svard Jacobsson and Lavillenie with a second time clearance at 5.81m.
Lisek had the bar raised to 6.03m - a prospective championship and national record - and while this height proved insuperable on this occasion, the Pole was still greatly satisfied with his efforts.
“The win and 12 points are satisfying. I know everyone expects a lot of me now, but 5.80m is high-class vaulting, too. The competition was a really good one for me. The conditions were not the best with some wind, but once I was sure of the victory, I thought why not try to go for the national record,” said Lisek, who will form part of a significant Polish presence at The Match next month.
#ETCH2019 pic.twitter.com/yFTHc6DJ76— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) August 11, 2019
Two more victories to the Polish tally were supplied towards the climax of the programme. With a 50.6 split Justyna Swiety-Ersetic anchored a typically exceptional Polish team to the 4x400m relay in a European-leading time of 3:24.81 to win by more than two seconds from Great Britain in 3:27.12 - a victory which also fully ensured the overall team title would be going to the hosts.
This was preceded by a somewhat surprising win in the men’s discus as the event’s grand old man Piotr Malachowski - who won the discus at the inaugural edition of the European Athletics Team Championships a decade ago - contributed a full complement of podiums with a final round throw of 63.02m to displace Germany’s Martin Wierig who had just taken the lead with 61.84m.
World leader Daniel Stahl, who has readily surpassed the 70 metre-line in 2019, was shunted down to third over the course of the final round with a best of 61.38m, more than 10 metres adrift of his season's best of 71.84m.
The Swedes finished ninth overall with 210.5 points and were one of five teams to get relegated into the First League along with the Czech Republic (219.5), Greece (197), Finland (190) and Switzerland (175).
The best individual performance of the day - and arguably of the entire championships - came from reigning European champion Malaika Mihambo in the long jump. Mihambo sailed beyond the seven metre-line for the fifth time in seven outdoor competitions, reaching the sand at 7.11m in the final round albeit with a 2.2 m/s on her back.
The second day in Bydgoszcz for the Germans was beset by a myriad of disasters which heavily dented their title aspirations but Mihambo was one of three German winners on the final day in Bydgoszcz, the others being Christina Schwanitz in the shot put with 18.93m and Hanna Klein in the 5000m with 15:39.00.
“It was also really inspiring to see all the other Germans getting 12 points today, and that gave me even more motivation. Maybe the bad day our team had yesterday gave us more strength to do well today,” said Mihambo.
The Spaniards also had a good day on the track with victories from Orlando Ortega in the 110m hurdles in 13.38, Fernando Carro in the 3000m steeplechase with 8:27.26 and Adel Mechaal in 8:02.51. This places them sixth overall with 294.5 points, with Italy (316) and Great Britain (302.5) rounding out the top five places.
Full results here.