Field event drama hands golds to Gudzius (LTU) and Guba (POL)
Final round flourishes from Lithuania’s world discus champion Andrius Gudzius and Polish shot putter Paulina Guba turned silver to gold in the Berlin Olympic Stadium on Wednesday in an evening session of fluctuating drama.
A large majority of the spectators were doubtless hoping fervently for a winning final flourish from their own hero Robert Harting, the 33-year-old making his final appearance for Germany who won the world title in this stadium nine years ago and added Olympic gold at London 2012.
When Harting produced a fourth round effort of 64.33 metres - and drew a deep bellow of approval from the surrounding fans - it lifted him into bronze medal position. But such was the volatility of this event that he ended in sixth place.
Gudzius himself produced a significant fourth round throw of 67.66m that consolidated his lead, but was swiftly usurped by an effort of 68.23m by Sweden’s Daniel Stahl. Another fourth round throw of 65.14 by Switzerland’s Lukas Weisshaidinger also proved significant as it pushed Harting off the last international podium he would ever have a chance of inhabiting. There was a final twist to come, as Gudzius reclaimed his lead with 68.46m.
As this humdinger of a contest played out, another apparently simpler one was taking place just across the infield as Germany’s 2015 world shot put champion Christina Schwanitz took a big lead with her first throw of 19.19m and advanced stolidly towards what would have been a third consecutive European title.
Guba hadn’t managed anything better than 19.02m after five rounds, but threw out to 19.33m on her last go. Bronze went to Aliona Dubitskaya of Belarus with 18.81m. “I am shocked,” said Guba. “I am sorry if I made the local fans upset but I surprised even myself. I am the European champion. I cannot believe it.”
Another field event briefly promised gold for the hosts as Fabian Heinle took a second round lead with 8.13m. But a round later he was back in second place by merit of having a worse second effort than Ukraine’s Serhii Nykyforov, who matched his 8.13.
Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou then rose with what proved to be a winning fifth round effort of 8.25m. But Heinle turned bronze back into silver with a final effort that matched his second exactly, giving him two stronger efforts than those of his Ukrainian opponent.
There was one triumph for the host nation, though, as Arthur Abele took gold in the decathlon by more than 100 points ahead of Ilya Shkurenyov (ANA) and Vitali Zhuk of Belarus after a gruelling two days of competition.
The women’s 10,000m title went to the 29-year-old Israeli athlete who leads this year’s European rankings, Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, who finished almost 50 metres clear of the Nethlerlands’ Susan Krumins in 31min 43.29sec.
Krumins staggered home almost bent double with effort, but stayed on her feet to take silver with bronze going to Sweden’s Meraf Bahta.