Spain’s Oscar Husillos held off three Dutch rivals in the final straight to earn European indoor 400 metres gold tonight (6) – three years after he had seen victory in a European indoor record of 44.92 disappear through disqualification for lane infringement at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham.
But there was no holding the Dutch phenomenon Femke Bol as she lived up to all expectations to win the women’s 400m final with ease, improving her European list and national record by 0.01 as she clocked 50.63. The second evening session ended with a bang as Marcell Lamont Jacobs won 60m gold for Italy in a world lead of 6.47.
In the men’s 400m, Husillos was fully rewarded on this occasion for a bold front run, passing through halfway in 21.31 that saw him hang onto the lead in a season’s best of 46.22, his expression swiftly changing from agonised effort to relieved joy.
A bronze medallist in 2019, Tony Van Diepen was closing fast on the Spaniard, but he lost crucial time in the long finishing straight after having to move outside his teammate Liemarvin Bonevacia and he had to settle for silver in 46.25, with Bonevacia claiming bronze in 46.30.
The victory added gold to the European indoor silver medal Husillos earned in Glasgow two years ago when he finished behind Norway’s Karsten Warholm as he equalled the European indoor record of 45.05. Husillos also won silver in the 4x400m relay at those championships.
“First of all, I need to thank my coach, my team, my physio,” Husillos said. “They all trusted in me. It was hard one-and-a-half years but they believed in me and I was thinking about them while crossing the line. It reminds me of the world indoors when I lost the medal but I came here today and won. I suffered a lot but it paid off.”
Bol lived up imperiously to her position as favourite for the women’s 400m title as she finished two metres clear of Poland’s European outdoor champion Justyna Swiety-Ersetic in 50.63, her fifth Dutch indoor record in as many 400m finals in 2021.
This 21-year-old 400m hurdles specialist thus became the first Dutchwoman to win this European title and afterwards praised the coach who guides her and Klaver at the national training centre in Papendal, Laurent Meuwly.
“It's crazy,” she said. “So much has changed in the last one and a half years since I was the European junior champion. If I run like an experienced runner, it's because of good advice I've been getting from my coach and also from more experienced colleagues.
“I'm happy with the execution of the race. I wanted to open faster than in earlier races, because I knew there were some fast openers and I didn't want to remain too far back. They were still ahead of me after 200, but in the end it worked out. I got a gold and a PB. I'm very happy of course, emotional, but also a bit relieved.”
As expected her Dutch training partner Lieke Klaver, who is just as adept at 200m, had got to the front as the runners broke from their lanes, but the 22-year-old soon found Bol passing her, followed by Swiety-Ersetic and Great Britain’s Jodie Williams.
There was no catching the serene Bol, but the home runner came home strongly for silver in 51.41 with Williams – whose last individual medal was a 200m silver at the 2014 European Championships behind Dafne Schippers – held on for bronze in a personal best of 51.73 ahead of Ireland’s Phil Healy, who also clocked a personal best of 51.94.
A disappointed Klaver was comforted by Bol after finishing fifth in 51.93 although they will reconvene tomorrow for the much anticipated 4x400m relay final against reigning champions Poland whose team will undoubtedly feature Swiety-Ersetic.
Swiety-Ersetic commented: “Tomorrow we will compete in relay and we want to defend the title. I think we are small favourites, especially as two girls from The Netherlands ran today in the final. We are in Poland, we are hosts, it has to be good”.
Jacobs sizzles with 6.47 world lead in the 60m final
Italy’s former long jumper Marcell Lamont Jacobs was the class of the field in the men’s 60m final as he powered home over the final 30 metres to finish with clear daylight between him and the rest of an evenly-matched field on paper in a national record of 6.47, a world lead and an Italian record.
Jacobs’ winning time elevates himself to equal fourth on the European indoor all-time list and his 6.47 performance was the second fastest winning time in European Indoor Championships history.
“It's amazing, a dream come true!” said Jacobs. “In training I was very fast, but I wasn't expecting to run 6.47. It's a new PB, national record, I'm just in shock. I’m now going to work hard for the summer season but the work I’ve done for my 60 is also good for the 100m and relay.”
Kevin Kranz of Germany took silver with 6.60, with bronze going to Slovakia’s defending champion Jan Volko in 6.61.
Belgium’s Elise Vanderelst, fastest on paper in the women’s 1500m final, was fastest on track also. She tracked Esther Guerrero at the bell after the Spaniard had sparked the race into life in the penultimate lap following three minutes of perilous bunching, jostling and jockeying for position, moving clear to win in 4:18.44.
Guerrero paid for her enterprise as she slipped back to fifth, with Great Britain’s Holly Archer coming through to finish second in 4:19.91 and Germany’s Hanna Klein placing third in 4:20.07.
The Briton was almost immediately disqualified for an infringement during the period when all nine finalists were moving round the track like a rolling maul; Archer appeared to have pushed an opponent in the melee in a thwarted effort to move through on the inside lane but was restored to silver on appeal later in the evening.
Jamie Webb, who followed fellow Brit Elliott Giles home inside Sebastian Coe’s British record on this same track last month in 1:44.54, qualified smartly in the fastest of the three 800m semifinals in 1:45.99 behind Poland’s Mateusz Borkowski, who won in a personal best of 1:45.79 after being disqualified for cutting in front of Sweden’s Andreas Kramer and then reinstated.
Borkowski, whose time was the fastest ever in the semifinals of the European Indoor Championships, will thus be one of three home runners in tomorrow’s final along with Polish champion Patryk Dobek and Adam Kszczot, who is seeking a fourth title at the championships.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s world silver medallist Amel Tuka will also be there having come through in the final few metres to win his 800m semi-final in 1:47.55. Also in the mix will be France’s 2017 world champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, who is looking sharp.
Three of the six women’s 800m finalists tomorrow night will be British and two Polish.
Britain’s 19-year-old Keely Hodgkinson, who set a European indoor U20 record of 1:59.03 last month, won her semifinal with ease in 2:03.11 ahead of Switzerland’s Lore Hoffmann.
On the comeback from injury home runner Joanna Jozwik, fifth at the 2016 Olympic Games, won her heat after catching the European U20 champion Briton Isabelle Boffey, who was rewarded for her bold running just before the bell with qualification.
And Poland’s Angelika Cichocka, the veteran of the field at 32, won the last semifinal ahead of Great Britain’s Ellie Baker, the oldest of the British triumvirate at just 22.