Ewa Swoboda’s unbeaten indoor streak was given a stern examination by the five-time Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah but the Polish dynamo held on for victory in front of a rapturous crowd at the Copernicus Cup in Torun on Tuesday (22) evening.
This eagerly-awaited final was the last track event of the schedule and the race more than lived up to its billing. And a capacity crowd inside the Arena Torun left ecstatic as their home favourite powered to victory in 7.03 by 0.01 against one of the greatest sprinters in recent years.
The 2019 European indoor champion got her trademark bullet-like start in the final but her lead was countered by Thompson-Herah who was drawn right on her inside. The Jamaican was closing quickly in the last 20 metres but Swoboda withheld this pressure, her superior start proving to be the decisive factor as she extended her win streak to six races - heats and finals included - in 2022.
“Winning against Elaine Thompson? It motivated me a lot. I am very happy, I am running at the same high level all the time,” said the ebullient Swoboda who has clocked 7.00, 7.10 and 7.03 in successive 60m finals and boasts four of the seven fastest times in the world this year.
Thompson-Herah was hoping to break the seven second-barrier but the Jamaican was gracious in defeat. "It was wonderful to compete with [Swoboda], she is doing great indoors. I am grateful to have raced with her today and I am really happy with my performance," she said.
And behind the two main protagonists, Pia Skrzyszowska continued to get faster on the flat. The reigning European U23 100m hurdles champion slashed her lifetime best to 7.14 to finish third with Olympic 100m finalist Daryll Neita from Great Britain fourth in 7.17.
“I did not expect that I could run so fast. This indoor season, I had to let go of the hurdles I'm focusing on [due to injury]. Now I am aiming for the final of the World Indoor Championships,” said Skrzyszowska who also achieved a unique 100m/100m hurdles double at the European Athletics Team Championships Super League in Silesia in late May.
The surprise of the evening came from Damian Czykier who not only came away with the victory in the 60m hurdles but also a national record.
Czykier had already impressed with a 7.56 clocking in the heats and another clean race was to follow in the final. The multiple European finalist had the best start but he did his best running over the last two barriers, pulling away decisively from a field which included France's Wilhem Belocian, the European indoor champion on this same track last year.
The clock initially stopped at 7.51 which matched the Polish record. But his time was eventually adjusted down to 7.48, allowing Czykier to gain ownership of a domestic record which had stood since 1999.
“I was never a talent who had results straight away. To get to where I am today, I had to work hard and make difficult decisions. Fortunately, all the recent changes that I introduced paid off and hence the record,” said Czykier, overcome with emotions.
Femke Bol made a victorious comeback to the city where she won gold medals in the 400m and 4x400m at the European Indoor Championships last year. In a near repeat of the 400m final in Torun last year, Bol latched onto the shoulder of her training partner and Dutch teammate Lieke Klaver at the bell before striding to victory in a world lead of 50.64, just 0.01 shy of her national indoor record set at the European Indoor Championships.
Bol won by half-a-second from the rapidly improving Natalia Kaczmarek, the 2019 European U23 400m and 4x400m champion, who came second and was rewarded with a lifetime best of 51.15, just five-hundredths shy of the Polish record.
Croatia's Filip Mihaljevic won a high quality shot put competition with a world lead and equal national record of 21.84m in the fifth round to eclipse the returning-to-form Konrad Bukowiecki who had taken the lead in the third round with 21.83m. Italians Nick Ponzio and Zane Weir also came away with lifetime bests of 21.53m and 21.50m respectively to finish third and fourth.
Full results here.