When the result was confirmed, when Tugba Danismaz realised she had won triple jump gold – here, in Istanbul, in front of her home crowd – the 22-year-old burst into tears.
She stood at the end of the triple jump runway, holding her face in her hands, then ran to her coach, hugged, cried, the euphoria spilling out of her after a month when so many in Türkiye suffered such devastating pain.
But at the European Athletics Indoor Championships on Saturday (4) night, here was a moment that would be remembered by all at the Atakoy Arena only for its pure, unfiltered joy.
“We are going through a very tough time and if people are happy because of my medal and they are healing their wounds because of the medals, that makes me very happy and proud,” said Danismaz. “The spectators were so great today and if I make them smile, that is very good.”
Danismaz opened the competition with a statement of intent, soaring out to a Turkish record of 14.31m. Olympic silver medallist Patricia Mamona of Portugal soon announced her presence, leaping 14.16m, but that was a distance she couldn’t improve upon in subsequent jumps, leaving her with bronze.
Silver went to Italy’s Dariya Derkach, who jumped 14.20m in the second round, her final sub-par attempt greeted with the loudest cheer of the weekend in the arena – given it meant what so many home fans were hoping for: gold. It was the first field event title in the history of the championships for Türkiye, and just the third overall.
“I am so happy that I am not alone in this,” said Danismaz. “I have so many foreign friends who sent me messages and supported me, so I am happy we are not alone.”
Murto rises to the occasion again for pole vault gold
In the women’s pole vault, Wilma Murto soared over a superb national indoor record of 4.80m, a height only she could clear, making her the first Finnish woman in history to win gold at the championships, adding to her European outdoor title last year.
Silver went to Slovenia’s Tina Sutej with 4.75m, while bronze went to Czech Republic’s Amalie Svabikova, who cleared 4.70m.
Greece’s former Olympic and two-time European champion Aikaterini Stefanidi, who also won this title in 2017, finished fourth with a best of 4.60m.
“I was very happy with my jumps today and I also went for bigger poles I have never used before so that was a big thing for me,” said Murto. “I felt very good coming into this and the qualification yesterday gave me a lot of confidence.”
Murto coasted through much of the competition with first-time clearances at 4.45m, 4.60m and 4.70m which had her in front as the bar reached 4.75m, where she had only Sutej and Svabikova for company.
A second-time clearance for Sutej heaped pressure on Murto for her third attempt, but the flying Finn duly soared over, before going clear at 4.80m on her first attempt. Sutej failed her first attempt at 4.80m then hoisted the bar to 4.85m for her two next tries, neither of which succeeded.
Mayer tipped for heptathlon gold but Skotheim raises the roof with 2.19m high jump
In the heptathlon, Kevin Mayer looks well on his way to gold after a dominant first day, the world decathlon record-holder equalling his PB in the 60m with 6.85, jumping a season’s best of 7.41m in the long jump and throwing 15.81m in the shot put before clearing 2.01m in the high jump.
That leaves him sitting on 3474 points overnight, and while his European record of 6479 no longer looks likely, it will take something substantial - or a disaster - on Sunday to prevent him claiming his third European indoor title.
“Honestly, my shape was good yesterday but I slept like one hour so I am so tired today,” he said. “I have no juice, but I had to deal with it and I did. I had some good events so it was not bad but honestly, it is hard to take pleasure under this condition because I am not 100 percent ready.”
His chief rival was expected to be Simon Ehammer of Switzerland, but he bowed out of the competition after fouling three times in the long jump on Saturday morning, having started his day with a 6.80 clocking in the 60m.
Sitting atop the standings overnight is Norway’s Sander Skotheim, who unleashed a championship best in the high jump of 2.19m to sit on 3541 points overnight, a silver medal now looking firmly within his grasp.
France’s Makenson Gletty (3368), Spain’s Jorge Urena (3287) and Estonia’s Hans-Christian Hausenberg (3409) appear most likely to fight it out for bronze on day two.
Cathal Dennehy for European Athletics