It has been seven years since Mesud Pezer from Bosnia & Herzegovina won shot put gold at the European Athletics U20 Championships but two fine displays in Istanbul this weekend showed that he could be in contention for a senior medal of some description at the Paris 2020 European Athletics Championships.
Having thrown a season’s best of 20.75m at the Balkan Indoor Championships on Saturday (15), Pezer then took that mark even further 24 hours later when he triumphed at the Istanbul Athletics Cup with 20.90m. His victory at this European Athletics Indoor Classic Permit meeting saw him beat the excellent Serbian duo of Armin Sinancevic, second with 20.54m, and Asmir Kolasinac, third with 20.44m.
Back in 2013, when Pezer won his U20 gold in Rieti, Kolasinac had been crowned European indoor champion that March in Gothenburg.
Pezer was not the only athlete to win on both days – and then deliver a better performance on the second day. Romania’s Andrea Miklos won the Balkan indoor title over 400m in 52.64 on Saturday and then won the following day in 52.37 ahead of teammate Camelia Gal in 52.66.
Her victory on Saturday helped Romania top the medal table with five golds, two silvers and five bronzes from Ukraine (5-1-1) and Türkiye (3-7-6). Other highlights included European indoor champion Nazim Babayev from Azerbaijan winning the triple jump with 16.92m and Moldova’s Dimitriana Surdu winning the shot put with 18.11m.
Albania’s Luiza Gega, who was voted European Athlete of the Month in January, further demonstrated her versatility this weekend. On Saturday she won the Balkan indoor 3000m title in 8:55.45 before winning the 1500m at the Istanbul Cup the following day in 4:13.06.
Albania also had further success with Franko Burraj winning the 400m in 46.83 and former European indoor champion Izmir Smajlaj winning the long jump with 7.94m. He also won the Balkan indoor title on the Saturday with 7.91m.
There was home success in the Istanbul Cup for Türkiye’s Emre Zafer Barnes as he won the 60m in 6.65 – having run 6.64 in the heats – to beat teammate Umut Uysal, second in 6.69 while Mikdat Sevler won the 60m hurdles in 7.80.