With just over 50 days to go until the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Wilma Murto opened her season in auspicious form in Kuortane on Saturday (7) by improving her seven-year-old indoor lifetime best.
Jumping off new poles for the first time in a competitive environment, the reigning European outdoor champion cleared 4.75m on her first attempt before three attempts at 4.80m.
Murto’s first-time clearance at 4.75m represented not only an early season world lead but also a Finnish indoor record, improving her previous record of 4.71m from 2016 which remains the world indoor U20 record.
It was also the second highest vault of her career after her 4.85m clearance to win gold at the European Athletics Championships in Munich last summer.
"The starting point was that I have an open mind to those new poles. I thought it was entirely possible that we would return to 4.60m but now it seems that there is no need to return the new ones to the factory," said Murto as quoted by Yleisurheilu.fi.
Elina Lampela was second with an indoor lifetime best of 4.40m while Mikko Paavola won the men’s competition with a 5.53m clearance.
Gerashchenko clears world leading 1.96m in Kyiv
European indoor high jump silver medallist Iryna Gerashchenko from Ukraine was also in excellent early season form in Kyiv on Saturday (7).
Gerashchenko, who finished fourth at the World Athletics Championships last summer, cleared a world leading height of 1.96m before attempting a prospective indoor lifetime best of 2.00m.
Her training partner Yuliya Levchenko was second with a 1.85m clearance.
Spain’s Jaime Guerra also became the first athlete of the indoor season to break the eight metre-mark in the long jump. The 23-year-old reached out to an indoor lifetime best of 8.02m in Sabadell on Sunday (8).
Two of Europe’s most exciting and versatile jumping talents also opened their indoor seasons in promising form.
World U20 high jump silver medallist Bozhidar Saraboyukov from Bulgaria showed his all-round talent by leaping out to a national U20 record - but this time in the long jump.
Saraboyukov, who is still only 18, leapt out to an outright lifetime best of 7.96m in Sofia on Saturday (7) to come within just two centimetres of the official European indoor U20 record of 7.98m which was set by France’s Erwan Konate last year.
Saraboyukov also has ownership of a 2.20m lifetime best in the high jump which he set to win silver at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Cali last summer.
European U18 long jump and high jump champion Mattia Furlani also opened his account by leaping out to 7.73m in the long jump in Ancona on Sunday (8), only five centimetres shy of the Italian indoor U20 record.
"As a debut, I can't complain because the condition is there, even if there is still a bit of technique missing at the moment," said Furlani as quoted by FIDAL.
Sesemann outsprints Wightman over 3000m in Sheffield
Phil Sesemann, who competed in the marathon at the Munich 2022 European Athletics Championships, had the beating of the athlete who won silver in the 800m over a distance of 3000m in Sheffield on Sunday (8).
Sesemann clawed back a three metre deficit on the last lap to overhaul a tiring world 1500m champion Jake Wightman for a noteworthy scalp - 7:54.34 to 7:54.58.
Reigning European U23 champion Isabelle Boffey ran a world lead and outright lifetime best of 2:00.99 in the 800m and Hannah Nuttall also set an outright lifetime best of 8:52.61 in the women’s 3000m.
Sam Talbot also scored a lifetime best of 5823 points to win the English heptathlon title in Sheffield.
However, the fastest men’s 3000m of the weekend was set by Spain’s Olympic 800m fifth-placer Adrian Ben who moved up in distance to clock 7:53.66 in Ourense on Saturday (7).
In Lisbon on Saturday (7), Cuban-born Arialis Gandulla, who competes for Portugal, equalled the world lead in the 60m with a lifetime best of 7.23 and Portugal-based Ukrainian Roman Kokoshko also set an early season world lead of 20.91m in the shot put.
In Lahti on Sunday, Annimari Korte also ran an early season world lead of 8.06 in the 60m hurdles. She also clocked a lifetime best of 7.58 in the 60m flat.
Steven Mills for European Athletics