An electric start propelled Reetta Hurske to yet another Finnish record and her first sub-7.8 clocking in the 60m hurdles at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Madrid on Wednesday (22) evening.
Hurske has already set four Finnish records in 2023 and the 27-year-old eclipsed her previous record of 7.81 in the rarefied conditions of the Spanish capital with a 7.79 performance, which also earned her the female athlete of the meeting accolade.
The standard in Europe has been exceptionally high in the sprint hurdles this winter but Hurske has embellished her title credentials ahead of the Istanbul 2023 European Athletics Indoor Championships from 2-5 March, taking victory over two of her main rivals.
"This winter has gone better than I could have ever expected even though I thought at the start of the year, before I had done any races, that I could beat the Finnish record," said the delighted Finn.
"The big differance to [recent] previous years is that I've been healthy all winter, no little niggling injury problems," she added.
With a late charge from the outside lane, France’s world indoor champion Cyrena Samba-Mayela is coming into form at just the right time, finishing second in a season’s best of 7.84 with reigning two-time European indoor champion Nadine Visser from the Netherlands third in 7.86.
Mette Graversgaard was fourth in a Danish record of 8.00, her second national record of the evening after clocking 8.01 in the heats.
Ordonez and Husillos deliver at home in Madrid
A sub-1:44 performer at his best, Saul Ordonez defeated all of his compatriots again - and some of Europe’s leading 800m exponents - for a significant victory in the context of Istanbul 2023.
Fresh from victory on the same track at the Spanish Indoor Championships last weekend, Ordonez kicked away for a comfortable victory in 1:46.22 ahead of Andreas Kramer (1:46.52) and fellow Spaniard Javier Miron (1:46.89).
On this occasion, reigning European outdoor champion Mariano Garcia - who has chosen to miss Istanbul 2023 because, as he told Spanish media on Monday, "There isn't anything left in the tank" - faded to seventh in 1:48.56.
However, Ordonez’s winning time was only slightly faster than Ireland’s Mark English who won a high class B race in 1:46.57.
Oscar Husillos backed up his Spanish indoor record of 45.58 at his national indoor championships on Sunday with victory in the 400m in 45.84 on the road to his title defence in Istanbul 2023 where he will cross paths with the Olympic and European 400m hurdles champion Karsten Warholm.
And Spain’s prospects are also looking rosy in the 4x400m relay. Husillos was followed home by compatriot Inaki Canal in 45.95 while Manuel Guijarro won the B race in 46.47.
In the last race of the evening, European indoor 3000m record-holder Mohamed Katir made a bold move to upset USA's Yared Nuguse who had declared his intentions of breaking Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s world indoor 1500m record of 3:30.60 despite Madrid unfavourable altitude from races longer than 1000m.
But the pace dropped after an ambitious first 800m of 1:52.09 which allowed Katir to take view, move up and then strike from home in the last 400 metres.
The crowd responded to Katir’s efforts on the last lap but the prospect of a third Spanish victory ebbed away as Nuguse countered Katir’s move and kicked off the final bend to victory in 3:33.69 ahead of Katir (3:34.32) and Adel Mechaal (3:34.82), both of whom set indoor lifetime bests.
Further down the field, Charles Grethen improved his own Luxembourg indoor record to 3:37.09 in seventh place.
Greece's Miltiadis Tentoglou won the long jump but only on countback at 8.15m to beat Cuba's Maykel Masso, with Sweden's Tobias Montler third in the close contest with 8.14m, while Jessica Schilder from the Netherlands set a season's best of 19.25m in the shot put to finish third in a competition won by Canada's Sarah Mitton with 19.76m.
Full results here.
Steven Mills for European Athletics