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Mahuchikh and Kokhan to target a full set of age-group titles in Tallinn

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The outstanding Ukrainian duo of Yaroslava Mahuchikh and Myhaylo Kokhan have been two of the most illustrious athletes at age-group level in recent seasons and both of them will be looking to complete the set of major titles at the Tallinn 2021 European Athletics U23 Championships from 8-11 July.

The event will be streamed live in its entirety through the European Athletics website and on the All Athletics platform here. Live results can be found here. Biographical entry lists are also available: Men | Women.

And should either of them falter in their bid for gold medals in Tallinn, both athletes are eligible to compete at the next edition of the championships which was recently awarded to Espoo, Finland in 2023. 

Mahuchikh and Kokhan have matched each other through the age-group ranks going all the way back to the 2017 World U18 Championships in Nairobi where they won titles in the high jump and hammer at the age of 15 and 16 respectively.

They repeated one year later at both the European Athletics U18 Championships in Gyor, Hungary and the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires before striking gold again at junior level at the 2019 European Athletics U20 Championships in Boras, Sweden.

Two years later, both athletes begin not only as the favourites in their respective events but they could also update the record books at the Kadriorg Stadium especially with favourable conditions forecast during the championships.

The championship record in the high jump stands at 1.98m to four athletes, including the great Blanka Vlasic from Croatia, a height which is comfortably within Mahuchikh’s repertoire. The teenager became the third highest jumper indoors in history with a 2.06m clearance in Banska Bystrica and she arrives fresh from setting a world lead of 2.03m in the Stockholm Diamond League on Sunday, just one centimetre shy of her outdoor lifetime best set at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha.

"I hope in this competition I will jump high and improve my personal best," said Mahuchikh, who won silver at those championships at the age of 18, at the pre-event press conference. 


Mahuchikh’s closest competitor is likely to be Belarus’ Karyna Demidik, who won the 2018 world U20 title in Tampere under her maiden name of Taranda. Like her Ukrainian rival, Demidik has also scaled the two metre-barrier in her career and jointly holds her national record with a 2.00m clearance.

For Kokhan, the long-standing championship record of 80.88m set by France’s Nicolas Figere in 2001 appears to be a slightly tougher assignment but he almost matched that mark in his most recent competition in Szekesfehervar on Monday (15) evening. 

His winning mark of 80.78m represented a world age-20 best and sufficed for victory ahead of the all-conquering Polish pair of Pawel Fajdek and Wojciech Nowicki who have won every major title in the hammer this side of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Kokhan could soon challenge this Polish hegemony in the major events if he continues his heady ascent through the ranks. He won the European U18 title in Gyor with a world U18 best of 87.82m with the 5kg implement - the longest throw ever recorded in the hammer across all age-groups - before winning gold in Boras at U20 level with a European U20 record of 84.73m with the 6kg implement. He went on to finish fifth at the World Championships aged 18 in an event which typically favours older and stronger competitors.

Ceh and Van Klinken poised to rewrite the record books in the discus

The championship records in the discus look similarly vulnerable even if reigning champion Kristjan Ceh from Slovenia and Jorinde van Klinken from the Netherlands don’t quite produce their very best form in the Kadriorg Stadium.

The colossal Ceh, who towers over his contemporaries at 2.08m tall, joined the prestigious 70 metre-plus club in the discus by extending his European U23 record to 70.35m in Kuortane last June - a performance which very nearly defeated world champion Daniel Stahl until the Swede responded in the sixth round with a throw 20 centimetres in excess of Ceh.

On his rapid rise over the last eighteen months, Ceh said at the press conference: "Coronavirus made it a bit difficult to train and competitions were cancelled but I think on the bright side, covid gave us much more time to change things that we didn’t have time for. It gave me a lot of time to make changes in the technique so I wasn’t complaining." 


The championship record in the men’s discus has stood to Germany’s Robert Harting at 64.50m since the 2005 but this performance could very possibly be ameliorated. Ceh has thrown further than this mark in nine of his ten competitions in 2021.

Van Klinken has a similar cushion to Ceh in terms of her advantage on the championship record. Her lifetime best and world lead of 70.22m puts her almost six metres ahead of the championship record of 64.40m held by Ukraine’s Kataryna Karsak since 2007 and the Dutchwoman has surpassed the 64 metre-line in her last five competitions.

The women’s discus line-up is one of the highest quality of the event. Croatia’s Marija Tolj will be defending her title in Tallinn while the precocious Alexandra Emilianov from Moldova has a second chance to add the European U23 title to her world U18 and U20 and European U18 and U20 titles after winning silver behind Tolj in 2019.

The American-based Emilianov is also in excellent form, recently improving her lifetime best to 64.40m in Kyiv which also surpassed the Olympic standard for Tokyo 2020. She will follow in her father Ivan's footsteps as he represented Moldova in the shot put at four Olympic Games.

Aside from Ceh and Tolj, Sweden’s Henrik Larsson and Great Britain’s Shemar Boldiszar will be defending their European U23 titles in the men’s 100m and 200m respectively. Larsson won the 100m title on home soil in Gavle two years ago at the age of 19 while Boldiszar upset his more experienced rivals for victory in the 200m.

Other athletes who could potentially complete the set of major age-group titles include Great Britain's Isabelle Boffey and Delia Sclabas from Switzerland who have both entered the 800m. Having won the U18 heptathlon title in 2016 and U20 heptathlon in 2017, Ukraine's Alina Shukh is seeking individual success in the javelin while Turkish race walker Meryem Bekmez could also win her third age-group title in the 20km race walk.

The entry-list also includes one reigning European champion in Belgium's Jonathan Sacoor who triumphed in the 4x400m at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships. Sacoor has entered both the individual 400m as well as the 4x400m at these championships.

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