Orlando Ortega has been knocking on the door of a gold medal over the past two years and maybe next month’s Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships will be his time.
The Spanish sprint hurdler already held the fastest time by a European this year in the 60m hurdles with his 7.61 from Nantes – and on Monday (4) night at the Orlen Cup in Lodz, a European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting, he went even quicker.
Ortega was prolific in front of a crowd of 8000 spectators, winning in 7.59 from Polish pair Damian Czykier (7.76) and Dawid Zebrowski (7.79).
Having won his heat in 7.65, the Olympic 110m silver medallist and 2018 European bronze medallist saved his best for the final. From lane five, Ortega powered home to signal to his rivals how much he wants to be on that top step of the podium.
Y con ustedes los 7'59 de Orlando Ortega en la reunión de Lodz (Polonia). Mejor marca europea y 5.ª mundial del año. Â¡Crack! pic.twitter.com/CwsF1TyZCM— Iñaki Martinez (@bilbaoatletismo) February 4, 2019
Seventh in Belgrade two years ago in 7.64 as Great Britain’s currently sidelined Andrew Pozzi won gold in 7.51, Ortega is now the arguable title favourite next month.
As Evonne Britton won the women’s 60m hurdles final in 8.04, Poland’s Klaudia Siciarz was second in 8.06 and Ukraine’s Hanna Plotitsyna was third in 8.09.
Swoboda approaches her world lead in the 60m
Ewa Swoboda maintained her brilliant 60m form as she treated her home crowd to a fine win on the road to Glasgow.
Just like in Karlsruhe, they saw two victories - in the exact same time - from the Polish sprinter as she followed up finishing first in her heat in 7.13 by winning the final in the same time, beating Jamaica’s Remona Burchel in 7.23 and Krystina Tsimanouskaya in 7.26.
Swoboda blasted to the top of the world lists in Karlsruhe on Saturday evening with 7.08 in the heats and then 7.10 in the final to defeat multiple world and European champion Dafne Schippers by a clean margin.
What a comeback story it would be for Great Britain’s Richard Kilty if he won the European indoor 60m title for a third time in a row after injury. He ran his fastest time of the year as he improved upon his 6.75 from Paris last week by finishing fourth in 6.64.
Mike Rodgers won in 6.55 from US teammate Bryce Robinson in 6.61 with Poland’s Remigiusz Olszewski third, just ahead of Kilty and in same time, 6.64.
Bukowiecki defeats Storl; a tie for Lisek and Wojciechowski
When he won the European indoor crown in Belgrade in 2017, Poland’s Konrad Bukowiecki took gold with a European U23 record of 21.97m at the age of 19.
The rest could not respond and on Monday, underlining his intention for more shot put glory by beating European-leader David Storl.
Storl had improved to 21.26m in Rochlitz on Sunday but this time he had to settle for second as Bukowiecki won with his third round effort of 20.95m ahead of Storl’s 20.52m.
There was a Polish clean sweep in the pole vault with victory being shared by Pawel Wojciechowski and the man who will be defending his title in Glasgow: Piotr Lisek.
They both cleared 5.80m with 2016 European champion Robert Sobera taking third with 5.70m, Former world indoor champion Kostas Filippidis from Greece was fifth with 5.60m.
While Lisek has vaulted higher this year with 5.85m, this performance marked a four-centimetre improvement on his season’s best for Wojciechowski
Elsewhere, Belarusian Aliona Dubitskaya won the women’s shot put with her third round of 18.64m from Polish pair Klaudia Kardasz who was second with a personal best of 18.14m. European outdoor champion Paulina Guba was third with 18.10m.