Tag Archives: European Athletics Championships

Track Beauty of the Week: Irina Davydova Ирина Давыдова

Irina Davydova Ирина Давыдова is this week’s Track Beauty!

Coming into 2012, Daydova had a relatively humble personal best of 55.48s in the 400m hurdles. Davydova made heads turn when she made her outdoor debut in Sochi last May. The Russian clocked 53.87s for her first ever foray under 54-seconds, shedding 1.61 seconds off her erstwhile lifetime best. In fact, she had yet to go under 55 seconds prior to this year! Her performance in Sochi propelled the 24-year old to the top of the 2012 world rankings.

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Helsinki European Championships: Women’s 4x400m Relay

The 4x400m relay has traditionally been the final event of athletics competitions. From low-key schools meets to the Olympics, the grueling yet exciting event has always been the curtain-ender.

The recently concluded European Championships in Helsinki were no different. With the Russian Olympic Trials being held the week after, the European athletics powerhouse opted to send its “B” team to Helsinki.

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Verena is Back!

My favorite moment of the 2010 Barcelona European Championships was when Verena Sailer stormed to first place at the 100m dash. Since then, I’ve been a fervent supporter of Verena. Unfortunately, the German sprinter’s performance have been hampered by injury.

Read: “Track Beauty of the Week – Verena Sailer”

The Helsinki European Championships was her first major international since her breakout win in Barcelona a couple of years ago. The German champion performed magnificently. Sailer notched a season’s best of 11.14s in the 1st Round. Verena (11.17s) finished second in her semifinal, behind the fast-finishing Olesya Povh Олеся Повх (11.13s)of Ukraine.

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The Future of European Hurdling

Sergey Shubenkov is the real deal.

He had set a new Russian national record of 13.18s coming into the European Championships in Helsinki. Despite a headwind, the 2011 European U23 Champion ran 13.28s in his qualifying heat. The young Russian stamped his class in the semifinals, stopping the clock in a European-leading time of 13.09s.

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The way he clears the barriers is impressive. The speed of his clearance is noticeable – from the lean to the forceful lead leg snap. It is reminiscent of ease of movement of Dayron Robles’ and Liu Xiang’s respective hurdling techniques. I have yet to study a slow motion clip of his hurdling, but his form – somewhat resembling the archaic double arm shift – is refreshing to watch.

He is a technician that has remarkable speed in between the barriers, as shown by his increasingly quicker times. And he is just 21 years old!

Shubenkov’s time at the Helsinki semifinal ranks him as the sixth fastest European all-time, behind Colin Jacskon (12.91s, 1993, 26y), Ladji Doucoure (12.97s, 2005, 22y), Tony Jarrett (13.00s, 1993, 25y), Florian Schwarthoff (13.05s, 1995, 26y), and Stanislavs Olijars (13.08s, 2003, 24y). Shubenkov had run the fastest time by a European athlete since Doucoure won the World title in the very same stadium seven years ago.

The Russian is in good company. Jackson was a former world record holder, many-time European champion, and and an Olympic silver medalist. Doucoure almost won a medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, had he not fallen badly. Schwarthoff is an Olympic bronze medalist and a European silver medalist. Olijars, a World Indoor bronze medalist and a former European Champion, reached the finals of the Athens Olympics.

With Shubenkov’s impressive showing at the European Championships, the future looks bright for the 21-year old. Considering his youthful exuberance, natural hurdling talent, and the sheer joy that he exudes practicing the sport, I won’t be surprised if he makes an impact at the London Olympic Games. The way he carries himself on the track reminds me a lot about Liu Xiang. Happy hurdlers, indeed, are great competitors.

Read: “Monaco Diamond League – 110m Hurdles”

A finals appearance is probable. He will be up against the likes of Aries Merritt, Liu, Jason Richardson, and Dayron Robles. Shubenkov had displayed maturity beyond his years at the Monaco leg of the Diamond League, where finished two-hundredths of a second behind Richardson. A medal is a distant possibility, if the puzzles fall into place.

Additional Videos:

Shubenkov’s win at the European U23 Champs

Shubenkov’s U23 post-race interview

Day 4 Interview (after the semis)

The Versatile Rosolova

I first learned about Denisa Rosolova while watching last year’s European Indoor Championships. It was remarkable how a former champion heptathlete and world class long jumper shifted to the quarter mile and strike gold! I admired her athletic talent and versatility. More importantly, Rosolova has the audacity to try something unorthodox. For this, she has reaped dividends.

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Marathon Athletics Coverage

I’ve always rued the lack of athletics coverage here in the Philippines. When there is a major championship, I almost always watch the festivities from those bootleg live streaming links. But thanks to Destiny Cable and Eurosport, I’ve been getting consistent coverage of the Diamond League circuit and the European Championships.

It’s quite weird, really, how my track & field addiction seemed to have grown exponentially after I hung up my spikes. Hence, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time staying up late to watch the aforesaid athletics competitions.

Eurosport’s coverage of the Helsinki European Championships is admirable. My favorite channel has been showing ALMOST EVERY SINGLE FRIGGIN’ EVENT. Because of the time difference – and my rekindled athletics addiction – I’ve been burning the midnight oil since the Euro Champs started last Wednesday. With the European Football Champs and Wimbledon also ongoing, I was tempted not to turn off the boob tube and shun sleep!

Despite the fact that I’m probably the lone Filipino losing sleep over the European Athletics Championships, I am a truly happy athletics afficionado!

Tiina Lillak: Finnish Javelin Legend

When I was watching the javelin qualification rounds of the Helsinki European Championships, I noticed a prominent banner. Written in bold letters were the words: “Finland the Javelin Country.” Indeed, the javelin throw is a national past time in the Nordic countries. Of the sixty-nine medals awarded in the event since 1896, a staggering thirty-two medals had been won by troika of Sweden, Norway, and Finland. In fact, Finland had swept the medals twice in Olympic history.

The Euro Sport announcers then went on to talk about a certain Tiina Lillak, and how she snatched the inaugural World Championships gold on her final throw – in front of thousands of ecstatic Finns.

Tiina Lillak circa 1983. (Photo from Jos Hendrix)

Britain’s Fatima Whitbread threw down the gauntlet at the first round, throwing the spear to a distance of 69.14s. Lillak was in second place, with distances of 67.34m and 67.46m achieved in the first and fifth rounds. As the legendary Finn prepared for her final throw, the camera focused on Lillak. She was the portrait of sheer determination. Just from her expression, it was apparent that Lillak was summoning something grandiose.

And it was an epic throw, indeed. The moment the Finn released the javelin, the crowd let out a collective roar. When it struck the ground, beyond the Briton’s erstwhile leading mark and beyond seventy-meters (70.82m), the tens of thousands in attendance cheered even louder.

Coming from a country where athletics is nothing more than a fringe sport, the thought of a jam-packed stadium and a dramatically triumphant hometown bet gave me goosebumps.

The Euro Championships Men’s Javelin final will be held tonight. The resurgent 2007 World Champion Tero Pitkämäki and the exuberant Ari Mannio lead the Finnish charge. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed as I cheer for hometown duo, hoping to witness an epic in the making.

Source:

Wikipedia

Track Beauty of the Week: Jiřina Ptáčníková

Jiřina Ptácniková is this week’s track beauty!

The Czech pole vaulter is amongst the elite of the relatively-young athletics discipline. Ptácniková has a personal best of 4.66m set back in 2010. She has an indoor best of 4.60m, which she cleared as she missed out on the 2010 European Indoor Championships podium.

Photo from sport.cz

The 25-year year old has had quite a few close brushes with major championship medals. In 2010, she placed 5th in both the World Indoor Championships in Doha and the European Championships in Barcelona, where she was a mere centimeter away from her personal best. The Czech has a Universiade gold medal to her credit though, a feat she achieved in 2009.

Nevertheless, her improvement through the years have been steadily consistent. In a technical event where pre-competition favorites could falter (think Sergey Bubka Сергі́й Наза́рович Бу́бка during the 1992 Olympic Games) or relative no-names could shoot out of obscurity (think Rens Blom at the rain-soaked 2005 Helsinki World Champs), Ptácniková is within range to eke out a surprise performance.

Fittingly, Jirina won her first ever major international title in a rain-soaked final at the Helsinki European Championships. The Czech had a best clearance of 4.60m in the competition, winning over the German record holder Martina Strutz and Greek Nikoleta Kyriokopolou on countback.

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