France and Russia lead at the end of day two - European Cup

France and Russia lead at the end of day two - European Cup

Saturday 18 June 2005

Florence, Italy - Strong performances by the French men’s squad and a continued dominance by the Russian women highlighted the second day of the SPAR European Cup on a stellar afternoon in the Tuscan capital.

French sweep in the 100m

Christine Arron claimed an impressive win in the short dash, clocking 11.10 in just her second race of the season. The Frenchwoman, the European record holder, gained the lead less than 40 meters into the race and easily held off the challenge of runner-up Olga Fyodorova (11.21) of Russia and Maria Karastamati (11.30) of Greece, the European indoor championships bronze medallist.

With Arron setting the tone, Ronald Pognon claimed a strong victory of his own to keep French fortunes in the 100 metres intact. Clearly in the lead at the midway point, the 22-year-old Frenchman held off the closing surge of Mark Lewis-Francis to win in 10.06 (wind +2.1) to the Briton’s 10.10.

“The French record (10.02) is within my reach,” said Pognon, who sped to an indoor European record of 6.45 in the 60 metres last winter. Pognon next start will be at the Gaz de France Golden League meeting in Paris on 1 July.

The French sprint rally continued with Marc Racquil’s victory in the 400. The 28-year-old held on for a narrow 45.80 win over fast-finishing Simon Kirch (45.86) of Germany to claim the third European Cup crown of the last five editions.

Antyukh helps Russia forge ahead

Adding to the hefty Russian lead that emerged by the end of the afternoon was a dominating 50.67 win in the 400 by Natalya Antyukh. The 23-year-old bettered runner-up Antonina Yefremova (51.56) by nearly a full second, with Dimitra Dova of Greece third with a PB 51.89. Ionela Tirlea-Manolache of Romania, the Olympic silver medallist in the 400m Hurdles, was a distant fourth (52.09).

Keita fires up an unstoppable French assault

The strong second day for the French men began early with Naman Keita’s dominating win in the 400m Hurdles. Powering down the final straight, the Olympic bronze medallist reached the line with a season’s best 48.77, more than 2/10s ahead of Pole Marek Plawgo (48.99), also a season’s best. With an enthusiastic crowd urging him on, italy’s Gianni Carabelli finished third, with a personal best 49.04.

Jumping to a lead by hurdle two, Anna Jesien sped to a strong victory in the women’s full lap hurdles, 54.90. The 26-year-old, who lowered a national record that had stood for 20 years with a 54.22 performance this spring, gained important first-place points for the Polish squad, relegating favorite Yekaterina Bikert of Russia into second. Bikert, an Olympic finalist in the 400 last year, clocked a season’s best 55.73. Germany Claudia Marx, nearly even with Jesien heading into the final straight, stumbled and nearly fell after hitting the penultimate hurdle, allowing the Russian to gain the advantage. Marx reached the line in 55.84.

Relay squad throws Britain a lifeline

With a come-from-behind anchor leg by Mark Lewis-Francis, the British men’s 4 x 100 relay squad pulled out a narrow victory in the final event of the second day, the first for the British team.

The quartet of Jason Gardener, Marlon Devonish, Christian Malcolm and Lewis-Francis reached the line in 38.67, just two 1/100s ahead of the surprise second-place Italian team.

A late hour change in the line-up, with Malcolm replacing Athens relay gold medallist Darren Campbell, resulted in a pair of rough handoffs before the baton reached Lewis-Francis. Heading into the final straight, Lewis-Francis was in third, behind both the Italian and French teams, and didn’t gain the lead until the final five meters.

“It was good for the team we ran today,” Lewis-Francis said. “There’s some things we need to touch up, but it was a good win.”

In the women’s 4x100m Relay, there was little doubt in the outcome when Russian anchor Yelena Kondratyeva bolted from the crowded stretch en route to a 42.73 win. Germany won the battle for second with a 43.58 performance, with Italy third in 43.85. France, anchored by 100 winner Arron, faded badly as Arron never gained full stride in the race, perhaps suggesting a possible injury.

Pyatykh defeats OIympic silver medallist

The women’s Triple Jump produced a quality competition, with Russian Anna Pyatykh setting the tone with her second round 14.72 leap, one that held on for the win. Hrisopiyi Devetzi, the Olympic silver medallist, was second with a season’s best 14.62, eight centimeters ahead of Italy’s Magdelin Martinez, who finished third.

The men’s Long Jump featured the closest battle in the infield, with Germany’s Nils Winter taking a one centimeter win over France’s Salim Sdiri with his third round 8.06 leap. After fouling the first three of his four jumps, Sdiri nearly pulled out the win on his fourth, falling short by the narrowest of margins. Vitaliy Shkurlatov of Russia, with a best of 7.98, was third.

As expected, Steffi Nerius of Germany dominated the javelin competetition. Eac of her three efforts – topped by her winning 64.59—bettered those of runner-up Barbara Madejczyk, who reached a Polish national record 61.72 to finish second. Italy’s Zahra Bani was third with a 61.66 best effort, the other other thrower to reach beyond 60 metres.

Bartels’ blast secures win

German-Spanish duals were the primary attractions in the two men’s throws on the programme. Favoured Ralf Bartels dispensed of the field quickly in the shot put with a 20.76 heave in the first round, easily besting Spaniard Manuel Martinez (20.28). The kits on the top podium were reversed in the Discus, with Mario Pestano of Spain producing a season’s best effort of 66.29 for the win, more than two meters better than German Michael Mollenbeck’s 64.12 effort.

Olympic bronze medallist Anna Rogowska of Poland won the Pole Vault with a 4.60 best, well ahead of Carolin Hingst’s 4.50 best effort. Rogowska, the Olympic bronze medallist, made three attempts at a national record 4.80, with her last relatively close.

Close two lap battle

The women’s 800m was expected to be a tightly-knit affair, and in the end it was, with just 14/100s of a second separating the top four finishers.

Maria Cioncan, an 800/1500 Olympic finalist last summer, best survived the closing mad dash for the tape with her 2:00.88 win. Monika Gradzki of Germany outleaned Svetlana Klyuka for second with a season’s best 2:01.00, just 2/100s ahead of the Russian. In the only men’s distance race on the program, Juan Carlos Higuero kept Spanish success intact in the men’s long races with his 3:41.72 win in the 1500. Mounir Yemmouni of France was second in 3;42.10, just ahead of Pole Pawel Czapiewski’s personal best 3:42.19.

Yelena Zadorozhnaya dominated the field in the 3000 en route to a comfortable 8:57.08 win. The diminutive 27-year-old who was fourth in the Olympic 5000 last year, led much of the race that saw the lead pack slowly reduced from five with five laps to go to three two laps later – The Russian, Tetyana Kryvobok of Ukraine and Mihaela Botezan of Romania. Zadorozhnaya began to pull away at the bell to secure the win, while Maria Martins of France surpassed the fading Kryvobok (9:01.65) and Botezan (9:02.84) to finish second with a personal best 9:00.71.

France from Germany at the end of day two

France, with 67 points, holds an 11 ½ point margin over Germany in the men’s race for the team title, with Poland third (57.5). The Russian women, the defending champions, are the verge of yet another dominating win. With 84 ½ points, the lead Germany by a hefty 20 ½ points. Poland, In third place with 62 points, Poland trails Germany by just two points.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

FLORENCE, Italy, June 18 - France’s track stars took the limelight on the second day of the European Cup here Saturday, but while the men’s tournament remains tight, the Russian women seem certain to run away with the title.
France’s Ronald Pognon, this summer’s fastest European over 100m, duly won the blue-riband event at Florence’s Luigi Ridolfi stadium in an impressive 10.06sec, just 0.02sec off the European Cup best held jointly by Britons Linford Christie and Dwain Chambers.
Pognon nudged Britain’s Mark Lewis-Francis, who ran the anchor leg in the Great Britain team that won the 4x100m relay gold at last year’s Athens Olympics, into second by four-hundreths of a second.
I had a good start and the track was very fast,'' said Pognon. This helped me to run very fast and set my new personal best. The French record (10.02sec) is within my reach.’’
Apart from Pognon, Naman Keita and Marc Raquil also bagged wins in the 400m hurdles and 400m for the French while long jumper Salim Sdiri and 1500m runner Mounir Yemmouni both finished second in their events.
Raquil came from nowhere to power past German Simon Kirch and Russia’s Andrey Rudnitskiy to win in a season’s best of 45.80sec. The US-born Briton Malachi Davis faded after setting a blazing early pace to finish fifth.
It was a difficult race,'' said Raquil. I struggled to recover positions in the last part of the race more than in the past. But it was only my third race of the season.’’
Keita, an Olympic bronze medallist in Athens, won the 400m hurdles in a season’s best of 48.77sec.
Britain’s Chris Rawlinson, winner of this event in the European Cup in 2000, 2003 and 2004, set off at a cracking pace but faded badly in the homestretch to finish sixth as a fluid-looking Keita beat off fellow Athens finalist Marek Plawgo of Poland and Italian Gianni Carabelli.
It was a difficult race because of the headwind in the backstraight,'' said Keita. I am preparing to run under 48sec this year. The Golden League meeting in Paris, which is my next race on July 1, is a very important event for me.’’
Germany, however, hit back with wins in the long jump and shot put through Nils Winter and Ralk Bartels, posting bests of 8.06 and 20.76m respectively.
After wins in the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m on Friday, Juan Carlos Higuero kept up Spain’s impressive performances over middle distance, winning the 1500m in 3:41.72. Compatriot Mario Pestano also won the discus with 66.29m.
Lewis-Francis did manage to save some British face on a disappointing day, just holding off Italy’s Koura Kaba Fantoni to anchor the Olympic champions home in 38.67sec.
Our win was crucial to avoid the relegation,'' said Britain's Jason Gardner. The Russia's women's team, shorn of its five Olympic gold medallists, finished the day in total control of their tournament after four first positions and a handful of others in the top three. In the 100m, three-time European Cup winner Christine Arron reproduced that winning form, the veteran French sprinter racing home in a convincing 11.09sec ahead of Olga Fyodorova of Russia and Greece's Maria Karastamati. I started well. Unfortunately I am very tired because I had to stop preparation for four days after sustaining an injury. For this reason running 11.10sec today was a good result,’’ Arron said.
But Russian Olympic silver medallist Natalya Antyuk ran away with the 400m in 50.67, compatriot Yelena Zadorozhnaya won the 3000m in 8:57.08 and Anna Pyatykh kept up her remarkable European Cup record in the triple jump, recording a fourth consecutive win with a best jump of 14.72m.
Russia also easily won the 4x100m relay in 42.73sec, ahead of Germany in 43.58 and Italy in 43.83sec.
The 800m was won by Romania’s Maria Cioncan in 2:00.08, and the 400m hurdles went the way of Poland’s Anna Jesien in 54.90sec.
Germany’s Steffi Nerius decisively saw off competition in the javelin with a best of 64.59m and Poland’s Anna Rogowska won the pole vault with 4.60m.
The afternoon’s results left France leading the men’s competition on 67 points, while defending champions Germany were second on 65.5 and Poland in third on 57.5, with Italy just half a point down.
The Russian women topped the rankings in the women’s events on 84.5 points, with Germany second on 64, two points ahead of Poland.

Russia and Germany take expected wins - European Cup, Final Day

Sunday 19 June 2005

Florence, Italy - As anticipated, the Russian women and German men successfully defended their team titles on the final day of the SPAR European Cup Final, on an exceptionally warm day in the heart of Tuscany.

Paced by four wins on the final day and 10 overall, Russia’s women tallied 131½ points, 37½ ahead of runner-up Poland, to capture their ninth consecutive title, while the German men, propelled by a string of consistent performances, scored a 113 to 104 win over Poland.

Malcolm 20.15 holds off Unger

Besides the battle for the team titles, several significant individual efforts highlighted the third and final day.

The men’s 200m featured the lone bright spot of the afternoon for the British men, who were relegated from the Super League for the first time ever. Christian Malcolm, the former World and European Junior champion in the event, cruised to an impressive 20.15 win, a season’s best that made the 26-year-old the ninth fastest in the world this year, and fastest among Europeans. Tobias Unger, Germany’s European indoor champion, was a distant second in 20.33, also a season’s best.

Despite their imminent relegation to the First League, the British men’s squad captured a quality win in the 4x400 relay. Leading virtually from the start, the quartet of Robert Tobin, Graham Hedman, Malachi Davis and Tim Benjamin clocked 3:00.51, to score an upset over favorites Poland and France. The performance was the second fastest in the world this year, and the fastest by a British team since 2002.

In the women’s 4x400, Russia was pushed to a 3:23.56 win by Poland, who ran a national record 3:24.61.

Gibilisco vaults 5.80

The highlight for the vociferous Italian crowd was Guiseppe Gibilisco’s victory in the pole vault with a season’s best 5.80 clearance. The reigning world champion signaled a return from injury with hefty clearance over the height, before bowing out of the competition with three attempts at 5.91.

“After some low-key results I needed to jump high and produce a good results,” said Gibilisco, whose previous best this season was just 5.50. “I have not won a competition since Rovereto in 2003. This year I feel that I have reached the peak of my athletic career. I’m ready to jump six meters.”

Adam Ptacek of Poland was second with a first-attempt clearance of 5.60.

Adding to the Russian victory parade was Tatyana Kivimyagi’s dominating performance in the high jump. After a third attempt clearance at 1.95, the 2004 Olympian gave herself an early 21st birthday present (23-June) with a second attempt success over 1.98, equaling her best-ever. This year’s runner-up at the Russian Indoor championships, Kivimyagi has displayed amazing progress over the past two season. In 2004, she improved from 1.82 to 1.98.

Ukrainian veteran Vita Palamar finished second on the countback over Melanie Skotnik of France with a 1.92 best.

Shot Put favourite Olga Ryabinkina of Russia didn’t disappoint in her event after a solid win with a personal best 19.65, the second farthest throw of the year. The bronze medallist at the European Indoor Championships, the 28-year-old added 29 cm to her previous best from 2002. Nadine Kleinert of Germany was a distant second with an 18.89 best, while Assunta Legnante of Italy was third (18.42).

Sydney champion back to top form

Kamila Skolimowska, the 2000 Olympic champion, won a quality competition in the Hammer Throw with a season’s best 72.38. Manuela Montebrun of France was second with a last round 71.10 effort, more than a meter ahead of Russian Gulfiya Khanafeyeva’s 70.06 season’s best.

In the men’s Javelin Throw, Mark Frank of Germany produced a season’s best 82.83 in the third round to score an important win for the German squad. Russian Aleksandr Ivanov’s second round 81.96 held up for runner-up honours, while Francesco Pignata’s 81.67 personal best, also in the second round, firmly planted the Italian in third place.

Doucouré commanding

Ladji Doucouré continued French dominance of the short races today with a commanding 13.16 win in the High Hurdles. Clearly in the lead by the third hurdle, the 22-year-old European indoor champion eased over the final hurdle and to the line and still finished nearly 3/10s ahead of runner-up Thomas Blaschek of Germany, who clocked 13.44. Italy’s Andrea Giaconi finished third in 13.52, a season’s best and the third third-place European Cup finish the 31-year-old veteran.

The women’s race was much closer, with Linda Khodadin of France and Germany’s Kirsten Bolm virtually stride-for-stride through the first five hurdles, before Khodadin slowly added to her advantage for a 12.73 win to the German’s 12.79. It was the second Cup victory for Khodadin, who won in Gateshead in 2000.

Arron convincing

The perfect showing in the sprints continued for France with Christine Arron’s convincing win in the 200m. Running in lane two, Arron, who yesterday won her fourth Cup title in the 100, held off Russian Yelena Bolsun’s challenge to cruise to a 22.84 performance for her second Cup crown in the 200. Bolsun (23.00) edged Ukraine’s Maryna Maydanova by 1/100 of a second to take the runner-up spot.

Like the French in the short races, Spain domination of the middle & long distances continued on the final day of competition with wins in the 800m and 3000m.

Pre-meet favorite Manuel Antonio Reina had little trouble dispensing with the field in the 800, winning easily in 1:46.11.

“It was a comfortable win today,’ said Reina, the 2002 World Cup champion. “The final time was not too bad for a European Cup competition.” Besides a strong focus on the the world championships in Helsinki, Reina said he’s aiming for a fast performance at the Golden Gala in Rome on 8 July.

Grzegorz Krozosek of Poland finished second in 1:46.52, ahead of Dmitriy Bogdanov, who lowered his season’s best to 1.46.79.

Jesus Espana easily won a tactical 3000 in 8:16.48, well ahead of Briton Mo Farrah’s 8:17.28.

Russian domination continues

The lone women’s middle distance event of the day was a fiercely competitive 1500, won again by a Russian. Yulia Chizenko managed to hold off backstretch challenges on the final lap to win in 4:06.76, ahead of Romania’s Olympic silver medallist Maria Cioncan’s 4:07.39. Doubling back from her victory in yesterday’s 800, the Romanian expended significant energy down the back stretch while briefly overtaking the Russian, but faded significantly down the homestretch. Bouchra Ghezielle (4:08.02) of France was the surprise third place finisher.

The men’s Triple Jump battle saw a pair of 17 metre efforts, topped by German Charles Friedek’s final round 17.20 effort, a season’s best. Russian Danila Burkenya reached 17.06 in the final round, also a season’s best, to finish second.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF