Back in the stadium where less than a year ago she won the world title, this weekend Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk sent out as powerful a message as possible to her rivals for European gold this weekend.
In barely three weeks’ time, Wlodarczyk will aim for an amazing fourth consecutive title at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships and now she has firmly established herself at the top of the world rankings after a superb performance Athletics World Cup, where Poland was the leading European nation and finished second overall to the USA, with hosts, Great Britain, in third.
Team points were the priority but from an individual perspective, Wlodarczyk showed her upward climb towards Berlin as she won with 78.74m in the third round, improving her previous 2018 best by over two metres.
It was easily enough for victory, though Great Britain’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon will be delighted with her 73.48m, which brought second place, with France’s Alexandra Tavernier in third 73.38m.
Poland scored 162 points behind the USA, who won with 219, and Wlodarczyk’s compatriots achieved a series of fine wins: Marcin Lewandowski (1500m 3:52.88), Karl Hoffmann (triple jump, 16.74m), Michal Haratyk (shot put, 21.95m), Wojciech Nowicki (hammer, 77.94m) and Sofia Ennaoui (1500m 4:07.66).
Great Britain’s team captain and long jump world leader Lorraine Ugen led by example as she banked maximum points in her specialist event by winning with a leap 6.86m and the host nation also celebrated victories in the pole vault with Holly Bradshaw’s clearance of 5.75m and with the women’s 4x100m relay in 42.52.
Germany saw victories for Julian Weber in the javelin with 82.80m and discus with Claudine Vita with 62.92m while France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde took the 110m hurdles in 13.22, his fastest time of the year before his teammates ran a European-lead in the women’s 4x400m of 3:25.91 as they finished third behind the USA (3:24.28) and Jamaica (3:24.29).
Swiss sprinters set records
It has proving to be a memorable few weeks for Swiss sprinters Majinga Kambunji and Alex Wilson.
Kambunji improved her national 100m record to 11.03 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne on 5 July then, little more than a week later, she was one of the stars of the national championships in Zofingen this weekend with a thrilling performance, stopping the clock at 10.95 to go second in this years European list behind Great Britian’s Dina Asher-Smith.
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In similar fashion, Wilson lowered his Swiss national 200m record to 20.25 a fortnight ago and brought that time down further to 20.14 in Zofingen, also moving to second on the European lists behind Turkey’s reigning world champion Ramil Guliyev.
Both sprinters will now have ambitions to be in the medal mix next month when Berlin co-hosts the first multi-sports European Championships with Glasgow#
They were not alone in having a great weekend.
A year ago, Jason Joseph won the European U20 gold medal in Grosseto and now he has the national 110m hurdles record after breaking the mark of 13.41 set by Andreas Kundert which would have celebrated its 10th birthday the following day. On Saturday, in the semi-finals, Joseph won in 13.39 before running a wind-assisted 13.38 in the final to take the crown.
There was also record success for guest runner Agne Serksniene, as she set a Lithuanian 200m best of 22.99 ahead of Switzerland’s Cornelia Halbheer who ran a lifetime best of 23.12.
Patra was the setting for the Greek Championships where Paraskevi Papahristou showed how much she has overcome a leg injury to win the triple jump with 14.33m having leapt 14.39m earlier in the day in qualifying.
In a solo race, Maria Belibasaki won the 400m in 51.31.
Martina Ratej has finished sixth at the last two European Athletics Championships and with Berlin so close, she has now moved to fourth on the European lists after a superb win at the Slovenian Championships in Celje on Saturday.
Ratej triumphed with 66.10m, and a repeat performance like that next month could see her make the podium.
Teammate Anita Horvat won the 400m in 52.32 while Nejc Plesko won the hammer with 75.31m.
And there was also some history made in Schifflange on Saturday at the Luxembourg National Championships as Bob Bertemes broke his national shot record by 10cm with 20.66m.