Ukraine’s Mykhaylo Kokhan became the first athlete to win individual European U18, U20 and U23 titles with gold in the hammer on the second day of the Tallinn 2021 European Athletics U23 Championships on Friday (9).
And if he wishes to do so, the 20-year-old Kokhan is eligible to return in two years’ time to defend his title in Espoo, Finland where he could have another crack at the long-standing championship record of 80.88m set by France’s Nicolas Figere which dates back to 2001.
Kokhan set a lifetime best of 80.78m only four days ago - the longest ever throw by a 20-year-old - to embellish his title prospects, although the Ukrainian downplayed his prospects of breaking the 80 metre-line for the second time in a week after the qualifying round.
And while Kokhan couldn’t indeed produce quite the same calibre of performance in today’s final, all four of his valid efforts would have been sufficient to win yet another major age-group title.
Kokhan produced his best throw of 77.88m in the third round and in a repeat of the 2019 European U20 Championships in Boras where Kokhan broke the European U20 record with the six kilogram implement twice, Greece’s Hristos Frantzeskakis won the silver medal behind Kokhan with 75.23m.
Both athletes will be making their first Olympic appearances in Tokyo in just a few weeks’ time. On his upcoming Olympic debut, Kokhan said: “My expectations for the Olympics are to show a good result, not any less than that - I hope! I would like to reach the final and then see how far I can throw.”
Turkish race walker Meryem Bekmez also completed the same treble with an unopposed gold medal in the 20km race walk in 1:33:08.
Like Kokhan with the heavier implement in the hammer, Bekmez has made similarly seamless progress through the distance in the race walking events. Bekmez won the 5000m race walk at the inaugural European Athletics U18 Championships in Tbilisi in 2016 before winning U20 10,000m race walk gold three years later in Boras.
Reigning champion and teammate Ayse Tekdal was a distant fifth in 1:37:43 while the expected challenge from neutral athlete Elvira Khasanova failed to materialise as the Russian was disqualified in the tenth kilometre.
Simon Ehammer and Jorinde Van Klinken also followed up their gold medals from the 2019 European Athletics U20 Championships in Boras with titles in Tallinn, albeit in different disciplines.
The gold medallist in the decathlon two years ago, Ehammer won the individual long jump title in Tallinn with his fifth round jump of 8.10m, only five centimetres shy of his national U23 record.
“I had an injury after Torun, so I had to take a break for a few months to physically recover. As the injury lasted longer than expected, we decided to focus on the long jump,” said Ehammer who was on course for a heptathlon medal in Torun before no-heighting in the pole vault.
“This means a lot more than just a gold medal. I missed a medal in Torun, then, I had some misfortunes after that, I didn't make it to Tokyo so this now feels so much more - it's really good.”
Van Klinken won the U20 shot put title in Boras two years ago but the Dutchwoman prevailed in her primary event, the discus, in Tallinn. Even though some of the final was held in steady rain, the world leader at 70.22m produced four throws in excess of the 60 metre-line with her winning effort of 63.02m coming in the second round.
A silver medallist two years ago at the age of 19, Tugba Danismaz came away with the gold medal in the triple jump in Tallinn.
Danismaz produced a national record of 14.09m on the occasion to win the title ahead of European U20 champion Spiridoula Karidi from Greece who led the qualifying round.
Karidi couldn’t quite replicate her 14.06m performance yesterday with 13.95m but the 20-year-old who lives from Corfu will be eligible to compete at the next edition in 2023 by virtue of her 2001 birthdate.
Full results here.