Reigning 60m champion is poised for title defence, as hurdlers Andy Pozzi and Nadine Visser plus heptathletes Simon Ehammer and Kevin Mayer impress on Saturday morning at the European Indoors
Jan Volko defends his title in the men’s 60m final on Saturday night in Toruń and it promises to be a thrilling race with Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy, Andy Robertson of Britain and Kevin Kranz of Germany among the contenders.
They all breezed through their semi-finals with Jacobs the quickest with 6.56 while Volko, of the Slovak Republic, just one hundredth of a second slower.
Robertson, meanwhile, won his semi in 6.59 and will be trying to follow in the footsteps of former British winners such as Jason Gardener, Richard Kilty, Linford Christie and Colin Jackson.
Robertson, 30, is the only Brit in the final, though, as Harry Aikines-Aryeetey was sixth in his semi despite running a season’s best of 6.67 and Oliver Bromby was third in Jacob’s semi in 6.64.
Earlier in the morning on this third day of the European Indoor Championships, Jacobs led the qualifiers in the first round heats with 6.59 as Robertson ran 6.60, Bromby 6.70) and Aikines-Aryeety 6.68.
“I don’t think of defending my title,” said Volko, “but I am ready for the final and will try to show the best of me.”
Simon Ehammer has enjoyed a flying start in the heptathlon and leads world decathlon record-holder Kevin Mayer after three of the seven events.
Ehammer, the 2019 European under-20 champion from Switzerland, was quickest of all the first event – the 60m – with 6.75 as Mayer clocked 6.86. Ehammer then extended his lead with a 7.89m long jump compared to Mayer’s 7.47.
Mayer enjoyed a terrific shot put, though, as the Frenchman threw 16.32m while Ehammer managed 14.75m. This means Mayer sits 49 points behind Ehammer going into the high jump, sprint hurdles, pole vault and 1000m.
Andy Pozzi, the 2018 world indoor champion, looked in supreme shape in the 60m hurdles as he breezed through his heat in 7.52. The Briton will face tough opposition in Sunday’s semi-final and final, though, as Wilhelm Belocian of France also ran 7.52 to win his heat.
“The competitors are really fast but I will try to go for a gold,” said Pozzi. “I trained in Italy so it’s been easier for me than for other British athletes.”
Nadine Visser (below) led the qualifiers in the women’s 60m hurdles with 7.92. The Dutch sprint hurdler looked in great form as five athletes broke the eight-second barrier.
One of them was Cindy Sember of Britain, who clocked her best time since 2017 when running 7.99 in Visser’s heat. However, Britain’s Emma Nwofor exited after finishing fifth in her heat in 8.24.
Sember’s sister, Tiffany Porter, also progressed as she won her heat in 8.04 but the former European outdoor champion was not happy with her poor start in the race. Unusually, the 33-year-old chooses to race wearing a mask too. However she says it is no big deal as she wears one in training the whole time.
Mondo Duplantis comfortably qualified for the men’s pole vault final by taking just one attempt where he easily cleared 5.60m. That final will not include Renaud Lavillenie, though, as the Frenchman withdrew on the eve of the championships due to a slight injury. Neither will it include Charlie Myers, the sole British competitor clearing 5.35m but failing at 5.50m to finish 13th equal.
“It’s been a long time since we had a championships – I think summer 2019 – and it feels good to be back in that championship feeling,” said Duplantis.
Andy Butchart was quickest of the 3000m qualifiers with 7:46.46 as he finished in front of Adel Mechaal in his heat. For Butchart, it was the second quickest heat time in European Indoor Championships history. His GB team-mate Jack Rowe, meanwhile, also qualified when third in 7:55.67 in a heat won by Mohammed Katir of Spain.
However all eyes were on Jakob Ingebrigtsen after the controversy surrounding his 1500m victory the previous night. And this time the Norwegian stayed out of trouble to clock 7:49.52 (surprisingly a PB) in third behind Jimmy Gressier’s 7:48.93 heat win. Such was the high standard of the event, Mike Foppen of the Netherlands became the first athlete ever to break 7:50 – with 7:49.99 – and not qualify.
Ingebrigtsen said it was “a long night” after the 1500m final, adding: “I’m really happy with how it turned out and I’m hungry for more, although the 1500m was my main goal.”
Marcin Lewandowski, the Polish runner who finished runner-up to Ingebrigtsen in the 1500m, chose not to race in the 3000m.