Seven athletics gold medals up for grabs as the 100m cranks up excitement levels at the Olympic Stadium
BERLIN - The first full day at the European Athletics Championships will see seven gold medals awarded, with the women's and men's 100m finals bringing the action to a close on Tuesday.
Four men have broken 10 seconds this season – Zharnel HUGHES (GBR) and Jimmy VICAUT of France lead the European standings with 9.91 seconds, while Filippo TORTU (ITA) and Turkey's Jak Ali HARVEY have each registered 9.99. Lurking just outside that mark, with a season's best of 10.04 - set in winning the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai - is Britain's Reece PRESCOD.
All go in the evening's semifinals, where they will be joined by qualifiers from Monday's qualifying round, the fastest of whom, at 10.24, was defending champion Churandy MARTINA (NED).
Another Dutch sprinter, double world 200m champion Dafne SCHIPPERS, will look to defend her 100m title. But she will have a serious challenge from fast-rising talent, Dina ASHER-SMITH (GBR), who heads the European list this season with 10.92 seconds, ahead of SCHIPPERS’ 2018 best of 11.01, and the 10.95 registered by Switzerland’s Mujinga KAMBUNDJI on July 13.
The 5000m and 10,000m, dominated over the last decade by Mo FARAH (GBR) - who is now concentrating on road running - look open, and it is the longer distance that will be decided first.
European U23 champion Yemaneberhan CRIPPA (ITA), and European indoor 3000m champion Adel MECHAAL (ESP), both of whom will also run the 5000m, look strong contenders.
There could be home success in the 10,000m courtesy of Richard RINGER. The German won the European 10,000m Cup in London in May in a continent-leading time of 27 minutes 36.52.
Turkey’s defending champion Polat Kemboi ARIKAN has also broken the 28-minute barrier in 2018. He is part of a strong Turkish triumvirate which also includes reigning European cross-country champion Kaan Kigen OZBILEN and Aras KAYA who won a silver medal in the 3000m steeplechase at the Amsterdam 2016 European Championships.
The men’s hammer title is expected to remain in Polish hands, although reigning world and European champion Pawel FAJDEK will face tough opposition from team-mate Wojciech NOWICKI, who leads the world lists with 81.85m to Fajdek’s 81.14m.
In the men’s shot put, local hero David STORL (GER) will be seeking a fourth consecutive European title. The 28-year-old policeman, who won world titles either side of a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games, was top qualifier with 20.63m, two centimetres ahead of Croatia’s Stipe ZUNIC.
But STORL will do well to arrest the progress of Michal HARATYK (POL), who leads the continental rankings with his national record of 22.08m, and who was third best qualifier here with 20.59.
There will be a new champion in the men’s 50km race walk for the first time since 2002, with reigning three-time champion and world record-holder Yohann DINIZ (FRA) missing due to a stress fracture. But the beneficiary of DINIZ's absence might not be an entirely new name.
Slovakia's 35-year-old Matej TOTH won the world and Olympic titles in 2015 and 2016, and is back in action having spent a year successfully clearing himself of potential doping charges following doubts over his haemoglobin levels. TOTH leads the 2018 European lists by almost two minutes with 3 hours 42:46, ahead of Finland's Veli-Matti PARTANEN and Maryan ZAKALNYTSKYY (UKR).
Meanwhile Jesus Angel GARCIA (ESP) is making his seventh successive European Championships appearance at the age of 48, having won bronze in 2002 and silver in 2006.
Women will contest the 50km for first time at the European Championships. Portugal's Ines HENRIQUES, who won the inaugural world title in London in August 2017, is favourite.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, France’s world decathlon champion Kevin MAYER gets his quest underway for another major gold.
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