This is Stuart Weir’s second piece for Saturday, on the incredible night of performances in Istanbul !

Saturday night in Istanbul

When the winner’s list includes Femke Bol, Karsten Warholm, and Laura Muir, you know you’re at a significant event. The European indoor Athletics Championships certainly came to life on Saturday night before the biggest crowd of the weekend by some distance. Add to that an Olympic champion beaten and a gold medal for the home nation, not to mention four intriguing semi-finals of the 800, a woman’s pole vault competition and another step towards the heptathlon title and you will begin to get the measure of my evening in the Turkish capital.

There were two excellent 400-meter races. I am old enough to remember the days when hurdlers used to hurdle and flat 400 races were won, well, by quarter milers. But these days fully paid-up members of the hurdlers union like Bol and Warholm, not to mention Sydney McLaughlin, are more than capable of leaving their safe territory to post ridiculous times on the flat.

A good crowd on Saturday in Istanbul, photo by Stuart Weir

Femke Bol won in 49.85. Isn’t it illegal to run that fast in March? Warholm’s time was 45.35.  Sadly Alexander Doom had to withdraw from the men’s race, living up to his name. I bet no one has ever mentioned that to him before.

The men’s 60-meter semi-finals saw an Italian record for the fastest time. Samuele Ceccarelli ran 6.47 in the first race with Olympic 100-meter champion, Marcell Jacobs posting a 6.52 with a rumor that he was carrying an injury. Reece Prescod also registered a 6.52. The winner of the other semi was Henrik Larsson 6.56. Intriguingly, the three medals went to the three semi-final winners. Mathematically and grammatically I have never been convinced that you can have three semi-finals but that is a matter for another time.

The final ended

1 Samuele Ceccarelli 6.48

2 Marcell Jacobs 6.50 

3 Henrik Larsson 6.53

Poor old Dominik Kopec finished one-thousandth of a second behind Larsson. Reece Presod who had run 6.49 earlier this year could only manage 6.64 in the final

Part of the apparent lack of interest by the locals in the event may have been the lack of Turkish favorites. Tugba Danismaz won the ladies’ triple jump with 14.31, achieved by her opening jump which she followed with 14.11 and four fouls. Her comments after her victory struck a poignant note: “As you know, we are going through a very tough time and if people are happy because of my medal and they are healing their wounds because of the medal, that makes me very happy and proud. The spectators were so great today and if I make them smile, that is very good. Even at the championships two years ago – at the 36th version of these championships, I was dreaming about a medal. I was so sad that I could not get any medal. I promised myself that I will be getting a medal at the next one in front of my home crowd. I am very happy to win this medal for Turkey here today in front of the Turkish people. I am so happy that I am not alone in this – I have so many foreign friends who sent me messages and supported me so I am happy we are not alone”.

Wilma Murto won the women’s pole-vault with 4.80







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