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Reigning champions in command on day four in Roma 2024

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Defending champions Armand Duplantis, Femke Bol, Karsten Warholm, Keely Hodgkinson, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, and Elina Tzengko all made serene progress through qualification rounds in the morning session of the Roma 2024 European Athletics Championships on Monday (10).

Meanwhile, the decathlon got underway in the Stadio Olimpico, with two-time world champion Kevin Mayer back in action since pulling out of last year’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

For Duplantis, a single first-time clearance of 5.60m was all that was required to see the Swedish world beater through to Wednesday’s men’s pole vault final. Poland’s Piotr Lisek, a three-time world medallist, also progressed with the same height.

“I am happy to be back in Rome - good weather, good food, hopefully good jumps tomorrow (Tuesday),” said Mondo. “We will see. My first aim here is to win the gold medal and of course, I am trying to jump high. I was very focused on today's qualification. And then it is about jumping as high as possible.”

Dutch star Bol looked like she still had a few more unused gears at her disposal to her as she sailed through the women’s 400m hurdles, winning the second semi final in 54.16.

“I felt good. In these days I've realised that the track is very fast,” said Bol. “Many are running fast and in the final I want to try to achieve a great time. My feelings were very good. I am very happy: there is an amazing atmosphere, we run on a great track so now I just want to give everything I have in the final and do a very fast race in this wonderful stadium.”

Warholm one race away from 400m hurdles treble

Karsten Warholm was confidence personified as he strolled through the 400m hurdles heats. The Olympic, world and European champion and world record-holder jogged home in 48.75 to win the second semifinal. Then the Norwegian superstar treated the stadium crowd to a short burst of ‘Volare’, the anthemic Italian tune in his post-race interview.

“You know I love athletics,” he said. “And to do it in the one of the most beautiful cities in the world, that is a privilege. I just want to make sure that the crowds will make some noise for the final.”

 

Italy’s Alessandro Sibilio, a former European U23 champion was also impressive, winning the third semi final in 48.07, where there was also a Slovenian record for Matic Ian Guček, who qualified in third place in 48.34.

Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson hardly broke sweat as she breezed through the 800m heats, running from the front to win heat 2 in 2:02.46. Poland’s Anna Wielgosz, bronze medallist at Munich 2022, also qualified, finishing second in heat 4 in 2:00.50.

“Heats are always a bit of a reality check to be honest, because you never really feel that great,” said the British runner. “It is just hard because some people are trying to run their best race ever.

“And you are trying to conserve the energy, so it is just a case of do not get complacent, do not get caught out at the wrong moment, do not get tripped up and also try and save as much energy for the next round. But it was a clean race so I cannot complain.”

Ingebrigtsen avoids carnage to close in on 1500m gold

There was a chaotic second heat in the men’s 1500m. As the bell clanged, the tightly packed bunch got into a tangle and Noah Baltus (Netherlands), Samuel Pihlström (Sweden), Robert Farken (Germany), Jochem Vermeulen (Belgium) and Isaac Nader (Portugal) all took a tumble.

Running from the back of the pack, Ingebrigtsen negotiated the carnage, but still left himself well adrift of the leaders. But he moved through the gears in the closing 200 metres to win in 3:37.65, playfully dipping at the finish to beat Italian Federico Riva by 0.10.

“If you watched the race, you could see that I really did not do much,” said Ingebrigtsen. “It was all about keeping the composure and I tried to stay out of trouble. And of course, I got very lucky with the unfortunate event when people were stumbling in front of me.

“So I was already on not qualifying position but could kind of test my fitness and my legs felt pretty good in the last lap. So it was a good race and I am ready for the final. As you see today, a lot of things can happen.”

 

Of the fallers, Nader was the only one to recover sufficiently to qualify automatically, scrambling home in sixth in 3:38.83 with a 55 seconds last lap. Pihlström, Farken and Vermeulen were later reinstated and have been given places in Wednesday night’s final, alongside Great Britain's Adam Fogg and Spain's Ignacio Fontes, who were also caught up in the disruption.

Great Britain’s Neil Gourley, silver medallist behind the Norwegian at last year’s European Athletics Indoor Championships in Istanbul was an impressive winner of the first heat in an untroubled 3:44.05. World bronze medallist Narve Gilje Nordås was eliminated, placing 12th in 3:46.15.

Javelin favourites progress

In the women’s javelin, Olympic silver medallist Maria Andrejczyk of Poland, safely booked her passage to Tuesday’s final with 60.61m. Defending champion Tzengko of Greece also eased forward, landing a season’s best 60.48m in her opening throw.

In the decathlon, France’s Makenson Gletty is the early leader, topping the scores in both the 100m, with a personal best 10.55 (+0.4m/s) and shot put (16.27m), supported with a personal best long jump  of 7.59m (-1.2m/s) to sit on 2788 points.

World indoor heptathlon bronze medallist Johannes Erm of Estonia is poised in second place, aided by a personal best in the 100m of 10.60 (+0.4m/s),  7.91m (+0.2m/s) in the long jump and 14.99m in the shot for 2779 points.

He is followed by Norwegian rising stars Markus Rooth and Sander Skotheim on 2754 points and 2670 points respectively, the former setting a lifetime best of 8.01m in the long jump. France’s Mayer currently lies in sixth with 2636 points.

In the women’s 200m heats, Germany’s former world U18 champion Talea Prepens was the fastest qualifier in a personal best of 22.83 (-0.1m/s).

Chris Broadbent for European Athletics




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