They might have taken very different approaches but ultimately the statements made by Karsten Warholm and Femke Bol at the Atakoy Arena in their respective 400m heats on Friday (2) morning at the Istanbul 2023 European Athletics Indoor Championships were the same: Catch me if you can.
Right now, it seems highly unlikely their rivals will be able to do that in Friday night’s 400m semifinals, or indeed Saturday night’s finals, with a second European indoor 400m title more than within reach for both.
Warholm announced that with a ruthlessly efficient, power-packed display, the 2019 European indoor champion clocking the fastest ever time recorded in the heats of the men’s 400m at this event – 45.75.
He flew through the opening lap in 21.29 and instead of easing off, given the lead he had built, he kept the pedal down over the final 50 metres, coming home clear of Sweden’s world indoor bronze medallist Carl Bengstrom (46.55).
“It was a bit faster than I was planning but you know, I had to scare my opponents,” said Warholm, who won gold in Glasgow 2019 in 45.05 to match the long-standing European indoor record. “I am very glad for the run, and I think it was a good start.”
There were also wins for Spain’s Inaki Canal (46.26), France’s Gilles Biron (46.50), Czech Republic’s Matej Krsek (46.23) and Belgium’s Julien Watrin (46.41). Defending champion Oscar Husillos of Spain also advanced, finishing second to Krsek in 46.28, with Portugal’s Joao Coelho advancing in third with a national record of 46.51.
Bol, meanwhile, took the opposite approach to Warholm, her recent world record of 49.26 undoubtedly enough to scare even the most formidable opponent.
The Dutch star breezed to the front at the halfway mark in her 400m heat, reached in a controlled 24.63, and she kept her bullets in the chamber over the second half, looking virtually effortless as she cruised to the line in 52.35.
“The goal for today was to get through to the next round without spilling much energy,” said Bol who will also be part of the Dutch 4x400m relay team at the championships.
There were also wins for her Dutch teammate and training partner Lieke Klaver (52.72), Czech Republic’s Lada Vondrova (52.77), Austria’s Susanne Gogl-Walli (52.34), while in the final heat Anna Kielbasinska of Poland underlined her medal credentials with a powerful display, clocking the fastest time in the heats with 51.77 with Czech Republic’s Tereza Petrzilkova second in a PB of 52.14.
Swoboda rounding into form with 7.11 60m heat
Poland’s Ewa Swoboda led the way in the women’s 60m heats, the 2019 champion clocking 7.11. Great Britain’s Daryll Neita clocked 7.14 to win her heat, while there were also wins for Luxembourg’s Patrizia van der Weken (7.26), Portugal’s Arialis Martinez (7.24) and Switzerland’s reigning world indoor champion, Mujinga Kambundji, who clocked 7.18.
Reigning champion Miltiadis Tentoglou breezed into the men’s long jump final via his second-round effort of 8.03m in qualification, one of four men who went beyond the 7.95m automatic mark. Sweden’s Thobias Montler had the biggest jump of the morning, having endured some nervous moments after opening with a foul followed by 7.75m. But he nailed his third attempt, soaring to 8.14m.
Next best were Romania’s Gabriel Bitan (8.03m), Spain’s Jaime Guerra (7.99m) and France’s Erwan Konate (7.93m). Rising star Mattia Furlani of Italy was one big-name casualty, the 18-year-old double European U18 champion – who jumped 7.99m earlier this year and was ranked fourth – exiting with 7.57m after two fouls.
Tentoglou, who is targeting a record third title in the event, said: “It is very early in the morning and I kind of underestimated 7.95m, you actually need to try to do it.
“It is good that the final is in two days, I will have enough time to rest. This competition was like a warm-up. My goal is to win the gold but I think that 8.30m would not be enough for it. I know Thobias Montler is very strong and he will for sure jump further than 8.30m.”
The women’s triple jump qualification proved that Turkish hopes of a medal are alive and well, with Tugba Danismaz leading the way alongside Portugal’s Patricia Mamona, both jumping a best of 14.09m. No one hit the automatic mark of 14.10m, with Sweden’s Maja Askag the eighth and final athlete to advance, jumping 13.82m.
In the women’s pole vault qualification, it didn’t take anything near the automatic mark of 4.65m to whittle the field down to eight finalists, with 4.55m proving enough. Finland’s Wilma Murto and Slovenia’s Tina Sutej were the two who recorded zero failures, while Greece’s Aikaterini Stefanidi, the 2017 European Indoor champion and 2016 Olympic champion, had one blip at 4.45m before coasting clear at 4.55m on her first try.
The women’s 1500m heats saw Great Britain’s Laura Muir advance to the final with the minimum of fuss, the four-time European indoor gold medallist sauntering past her rivals up the home straight to hit the line in 4:23.20 ahead of Portugal’s Marta Pen Freitas (4:23.30).
The first heat saw Romania’s Claudia Bobocea take qualification matters into her own hands, conscious of the non-automatic places, but in the end she had no need to worry. She towed the field around at a swift pace and held on to win in 4:07.63, the fastest ever heat time at these championships.
Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui looked fully controlled in second, clocking 4:07.91 to also advance. Back in fifth, a national record for Vera Hoffmann of 4:08.73 meant she became the first athlete from Luxembourg to advance to a European indoor final in any event.
Spain’s Esther Guerrero edged Britain’s Ellie Baker to victory in the third heat, clocking 4:10.48.
Full results here.
Cathal Dennehy for European Athletics