Matthew Hudson-Smith continued his flying return to form after injuries scuppered his Olympic ambitions last year by reducing his European 400m lead to 44.61 at the LSU Alumni Gold meeting in Baton Rouge, USA on Sunday (24).
The reigning European champion’s time follows on from his 44.82 clocking in Gainsville a week ago, his first sub-45 time in four years.
The Briton’s time – finishing third behind Bahamas’ Tokyo Olympic champion Steven Gardiner who ran a world-leading 44.22 – equalled his second fastest ever and in the wake of his outing in Louisiana no less than three important marks have now become realistic targets during the summer months.
His personal best of 44.48 was set in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games semifinals, and Hudson-Smith currently lies ninth on the European all-time list; Iwan Thomas’ British record of 44.36 has been standing for almost a quarter-of-a-century since the Welshman ran that time in July 1997 while Thomas Schonlebe’s European record of 44.33 has been leading the continental standards for almost a decade longer after having been set when the German won at the 1987 World Athletics Championships.
Some start to the outdoor season for @mattonthefloor who clocks 44.61 over 400m at LSU Alumni Gold ????????— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) April 23, 2022
The second fastest time of his career, just a quarter of a second off the 25-year-old British record set by @Iwanrunner and the second fastest time by a European since 2016 ???? pic.twitter.com/vUxZI1MMOg
Other notable results by European athletes over the weekend included 2018 European 5000m silver medallist Eilish McColgan running 14:45 for 5km on the roads in the Spanish city of Malaga, just missing Sifan Hassan's European record by one second and improved her own British record set earlier this year by three seconds.
“It was a lot of fun today,” reflected McColgan. “I struggled a little bit at the top because I’m like a giraffe and my legs are a little too long to go round those corners, but I felt like I got really good speed ,and momentum down the straight. By the end of the summer, I’d like to break 14:40.
“At the very start of March I caught Covid and I was so surprised on how it floored me. I just thought I’m young and healthy enough but my running took a chunk of time coming back. It’s only been the last 10 days where I’ve felt like I’m getting back to normal, and this was a good event to start on the roads. There was a bit less pressure on the roads time wise compared to the track and I’ve hopefully got a good summer ahead,” added the Scot.
.@EilishMccolgan set a ???????? 5K record earlier, officially 14:45, improving on her own 14:48 from Feb which broke Paula Radcliffe’s 14:51 from 2003 ????— Alex Seftel????️ (@seftelevision) April 24, 2022
She was “surprised” to recover so well after a recent bout of covid.
Close to 14:44 - the Euro record.#METASPEED @ASICSeurope pic.twitter.com/2jX7FvjJSC
In the same meeting, Spain's Mohamed Katir won the men's 5km in 13:20, just two seconds outside Jimmy Gressier’s European record from 2020. However, unlike McColgan, although he moves up to equal fifth on the European all-time list Katir wasn’t rewarded with a national record as he was one second shy of Ouassim Ouaziz’s Spanish standard.
On Saturday (23), Italy’s reigning Olympic 20km race walk champion Massimo Stano had his first competitive outing over the new championship distance of 35km at the Dudinska 50, a World Athletics Race Walking Tour Gold event and made a winning debut, crossing the line in an Italian record of 2:29:09.
Stano was third and 39 seconds off the lead at 30km but showed he has been working on his tactics and stamina to cope with the new distance and came through strongly over the final 5km, getting in front with a kilometre to go.
After the race, Stano confirmed that he plans to race over 35km at the World Athletics Championships in July and then drop down to the 20km at the European Athletics Championships the following month.
Four years ago, at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin, Stano set a 20km personal best of 1:20:51 – which has since improved to 1:17:45 – but finished just out of the medals in fourth. However, in the wake of his Olympic triumph and early season form, the Italian could be looking to add further international honours to his collection in Munich.