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Nedasekau breaks 40-year-old record for high jump gold

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While the heptathlon has been the outstanding competition of the championships on the women’s side thus far, the high jump was the standout final for the men on the third evening session of the European Athletics U20 Championships in Grosseto, Italy.

Not only did the final produce arguably the best mark of the championships, the competition was also filled with drama and suspense.

After passing his one remaining attempt at 2.26m, the high-stepping Dmytro Nikitin from Ukraine - who also needed three attempts at 2.17m and 2.22m - sealed silver on countback from Great Britain’s Tom Gale with a last gasp clearance at a lifetime best height of 2.28m.

On most occasions, that mark would have been more than sufficient for the gold medal in any championships at U20 level but 19-year-old Maksim Nedasekau, whose pre-competition lifetime best stood at a respectable 2.26m, first equalled the championship record with a 2.30m clearance before erasing Vladimir Yashchenko’s mark - the oldest one on the books on the men’s side and probably the last surviving major international championship record by a straddle jumper - with a third time clearance at 2.33m.

The crowd at the Carlo Zecchini Stadium were treated to quite a spectacle as Nedasekau moved all the way up to sixth on the world U20 all-time lists alongside Sweden’s Patrik Sjoberg and China’s Zhu Jianhua - both future world record breakers. His winning jump was also the best by a junior since 1992.

The women’s shot put also reached a thrilling climax as Jorinde van Klinken from the Netherlands unseated leader Julia Ritter with a lifetime best of 16.89m with her sixth round. But the German still had one throw remaining and with the very last throw of the competition, Ritter produced a phenomenal throw of 17.24m - a lifetime best by 45 centimetres - to regain the ascendency.

“I gave everything in the last shot. It’s amazing! I dedicate this medal to my father who did everything for me, my cousin and all my family,” said Ritter, who is aiming to make the German team for the European Athletics Championships in Berlin next summer.

Mixed fortunes for Ingebrigtsen

Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s target of a hat-trick of titles came apart at the very first hurdle as the 16-year-old fell on the last lap of the 1500m but after finishing eighth in a tactical encounter in 3:58.64, the Norwegian returned to the track at the end of the programme for the 5000m final.

Sporting some war wounds, Ingebrigtsen still had more than enough in the legs as he sprinted away on the last lap to claim his first major track title in 14:41.67 from Spain’s Tariku Novales (14:44.66) while Romania’s Dorin Andrei Rusu picked up his second medal of the championships, following up his 10,000m win with 5000m bronze in 14:46.07.

Ingebrigtsen will be back in action tomorrow afternoon in the 3000m steeplechase final, an event which he will also contest at the World Championships in London next month.

Another excellent middle distance prospect is Delia Sclabas from Switzerland, who claimed her third continental title at the age of 16. After winning the 1500m and 3000m titles at the European U18 Championships in Tbilisi last year, Sclabas produced a gun-to-tape win over 3000m in Grosseto in 9:10.13, just outside her lifetime best of 9:09.33.

Germany’s Anna Oed won the 3000m steeplechase in a lifetime best of 10:00.79 but the favourite Lili Anna Toth from Hungary - a convincing heat winner and the only athlete in the field with a sub-ten minute lifetime best - suffered a terrible fall just after the one kilometre checkpoint when she clipped a barrier with her trail leg and had to be stretchered off the track.

Bryzhina wins 400m gold

It has been an excellent championships for Ukraine and Anastasiya Bryzhina claimed their third gold medal with a dominant run in the 400m. Bryzhina, whose mother Olga won the Olympic 400m title for the Soviet Union in 1988, followed in her footsteps by taking the title in 52.01 ahead of Romania’s Andrea Miklos (52.31) and Great Britain’s Hannah Williams (52.55).

Sweden’s Lisa Gunnarsson cleared 4.40m to win the pole vault title before taking two attempts at a championship record of 4.58m. Brit Molly Caudery set two lifetime bests to claim silver with 4.35m while Finland’s Wilma Murto, who has been struggling with a foot injury this season, had to settle for bronze with 4.15m.

“This championship was the first competition for me this year and will probably be the last. I want to take some time to fully recover,” said Murto.

Czech Republic’s Katerina Skypalova won the hammer with 64.78m while Estonia’s Johannes Erm leads the overnight decathlon standings with 4226 from France’s Ludovic Besson (4202) and world U20 champion Niklas Kaul from Germany (4170), who has a very strong second day.

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