Thursday, 19 June 2014

PREVIEW: European Athletics Team Championships, Super League – Braunschweig, Germany

The athletics powerhouses of Europe gather to establish the continent’s number one nation in Braunschweig this Saturday and Sunday, as teams representing Russia, Germany, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, France, Ukraine, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Turkey do battle in the German city.

Competing on the track, spectators will be treated to performances from the likes of Jimmy Vicaut, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and Abeba Aregawi, whilst some of the stars expected on the in-field include Renaud Lavillenie, Greg Rutherford, Barbora Spotakova, David Storl, Tomas Majewski, Christina Schwanitz, Piotr Malachowski, Robert Harting and Betty Heidler.

Here is a summary of which athletes to watch out for in each of the 40 events:

Men’s 100m –

The two main protagonists are likely to be France’s Jimmy Vicaut and Great Britain’s Danny Talbot.

Vicaut – the overwhelming favourite for this event - is the European indoor 60m champion and sped to an impressive 9.95 lifetime best earlier in the season.

The 22-year-old followed this performance with a third place finish at the Eugene IAAF Diamond League and the runner-up position at the IAAF Diamond League in Oslo last week to firmly establish himself as the European number one.

Talbot, meanwhile, has registered a 10.14 personal best this summer and the 2012 European 200m bronze medallist’s fine form should be enough to fend off the rest of the field.

Women’s 100m –

Germany’s Verena Sailer will be hoping to treat the home crowd to a local victory, following the 2010 European champion’s sixth place in the IAAF Diamond League in Doha last month.

Boasting an 11.02 best, 28-year-old Sailer will likely be pushed by France’s European indoor 60m silver medallist, Myriam Soumare, who recorded an 11.18 season’s best en route to victory in the non-Diamond League event in Oslo.

The Netherlands’ Jamile Samuel – the 2010 world junior 100m and 200m bronze medallist – has improved from 11.36 to 11.12 this summer and the 22-year-old is the fastest in the field.

Men’s 200m –

European 100m champion, Christophe Lemaitre of France skipped Oslo through injury but will still be hoping to recapture the sort of form which propelled him to second place in the Rome IAAF Diamond League in a 20.24 season’s best earlier this month.

With a 19.80 clocking to his name, the 24-year-old should comfortably take the honours ahead of his nearest rivals, Great Britain’s James Ellington and Germany’s Julian Reus.

The pair have both run 20.44 season’s best this summer, with Ellington nearing his 20.42 personal best time.

Women’s 200m –

World heptathlon bronze medallist, Dafne Schippers is an accomplished sprinter and the 22-year-old Dutchwoman starts as the favourite in this event following her 22.35 national record en route to third place in the heptathlon in Gotzis at the beginning of June.

Her challengers will be Ukraine’s Nataliya Pohrebnyak, who clocked a 22.89 lifetime best this summer and France’s Soumare, a 22.32 runner at her best.

Men’s 400m –

France’s Mame-Ibra Anne has made big strides so far this season, with a 45.44 personal best and he will be up against Russia’s European junior champion, Pavel Ivashko who ran a 45.46 lifetime best last week.

Women’s 400m –

Ukraine’s 4x400m relay gold medallist, Olha Zemlayak has registered a fine 51.10 personal bets this season and she will face France’s Floria Guei and Russia’s Alena Tamkova.

Men’s 800m –

Adam Kszczot is a 1:43.30 runner at his best and the 24-year-old world indoor runner-up recently finished fifth in both Eugene and the New York IAAF Diamond League.

The Polish European indoor champion will go head-to-head with France’s European bronze medallist, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse who was fourth in Eugene, and Spain’s Kevin Lopez, the European indoor runner-up who has a strong 1:43.93 season’s best.

Women’s 800m –

Russia’s Yekaterina Poistogova is the only woman in the field with a sub-two-minute clocking to their name in 2014, and the 23-year-old Olympic bronze medallist should
make light work of the competition.

With a 1:58.55 season’s best, Poistogova will be chased by Poland’s world indoor runner-up, Angelika Cichocka and Ukraine’s Olha Lyakhova – the European under23 silver medallist who has set a 2:00.15 personal best this season.

In addition, the Czech Republic’s Lenka Masna and Great Britain’s Jenny Meadows will be keen to feature prominently.

Men’s 1500m -

A week after his third place finish and a 3:49.86 lifetime best in Oslo’s tough Dream Mile, Germany’s Homiyu Tesfaye tackles the metric mile.

The 20-year-old world fifth placer already has a promising 3:31.98 personal best to his name this year but he will face some stiff opposition in the shape of Turkey’s Ilham Tanui Ozbilen.

Fourth back in March’s IAAF World Indoor Championships, Ozbilen holds a 3:32.09 season’s best, whilst Great Britain’s Charlie Grice – the European under23 runner-up – could cause a surprise.

Women’s 1500m –

With the world indoor and outdoor titles highlighting her athletic CV, Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi will be the woman to beat.

The 23-year-old European indoor champion took the honours at the Shanghai and New York IAAF Diamond Leagues and is the only athlete in the field to have run under four-minutes this summer, courtesy of her 3:57.57 season’s best.

Maureen Koster of the Netherlands and Great Britain’s 2011 world silver medallist, Hannah England will be in the battle for the second and third spot.

Men’s 3,000m –

2012 world indoor 800m runner-up, Jakub Holusa of the Czech Republic has registered a 7:52.82 personal best this year en route to claiming the 1500m non-Diamond League event in Oslo.

He will face Germany’s World University Games 5,000m bronze medallist, Richard Ringer and France’s Yohan Durand.

Women’s 3,000m –

Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands finished fifth in the world indoor final and the 21-year-old took the 1500m in Hengelo last month, also having recently recorded 800m, 1500m and 5,000m lifetime bests.

Poland’s world indoor 3,000m finalist, Renata Plis has set an 8:40.42 personal best this summer and will also contest, as will Germany’s Diana Sujew.

Men’s 5,000m –

Turkey’s European junior 5,000m and 10,000 champion, Ali Kaya is the favourite and the 20-year-old’s nearest challenger could be fifteen years his senior.

Spain’s 2006 European champion, Jesus Espana will hope to roll back the years, whilst Great Britain’s Luke Caldwell will be hoping to translate his 13:33.28 season’s best as the fastest in the field this year into a third-place finish.

Women’s 5,000m –

Sweden’s Meraf Bahta recorded an impressive 14:59.49 national record back in May but she will be challenged by Great Britain’s Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m eighth placer, Julia Bleasdale and the home nation’s Sabrina Mockenhaupt.

Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase –

Fifth in Rome, Poland’s Krystian Zalewski arrives from an 8:16.20 lifetime best this season and the European under23 bronze medallist faces the continent’s senior bronze medallist, Victor Garcia of Spain in the steeplechase contest.

Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase –

Sweden’s 29-year-old Charlotta Fougberg comes into the competition with a 9:34.61 national record under her belt, and of those to also contest, Russia’s Yekaterina Doseykina and Germany’s Antje Moldner-Schmidt – an Olympic and world finalist in the past two summers – should feature highly.

Men’s 110m Hurdles –

World indoor 60m hurdles runner-up, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France sped to a 13.12 world-lead and equal personal best in Oslo, and the 22-year-old will be hard to beat.

Leading the chase will be world bronze medallist, Sergey Shubenkov of Russia following his second and third positions in Doha and Oslo, respectively, and Great Britain’s world fifth placer, Will Sharman who is close to his best this summer with a 13.28 clocking.

Women’s 100m Hurdles –

France’s Cindy Billaud – with a 12.69 season’s best – is the stand-out performer in the field and the 28-year-old world indoor fourth placer has shown good form on the IAAF Diamond League circuit, with two fourth place finishes in Rome and New York.

Germany’s world indoor 60m hurdles finalist, Nadine Hildebrand also competes.

Men’s 400m Hurdles –

Russia’s 22-year-old Denis Kudryavtsev has recorded a 48.95 personal best this season and he will face Poland’s European junior runner-up, Patryk Dobek and Great Britain’s Richard Yates.

Women’s 400m Hurdles –

World fifth placer, Eilidh Child of Great Britain leads the way with the only sub-55-second time in the field this summer and the 27-year-old boasts three third place finishes in Doha, Rome and Oslo, respectively.

Ukraine’s Hanna Ryzhykova – sixth in last year’s global championships – and Russia’s 2012 European champion, Irina Davydova provide the opposition.

Men’s High Jump –

Following third place in New York, Ukraine’s Andriy Protsenko – the world indoor bronze medallist – enters the competition as the favourite for victory.

The 26-year-old has leapt a 2.35m lifetime best this summer and he will go up against France’s European bronze medallist, Mickael Hanany, who has cleared a 2.34m personal best this season.

Women’s High Jump –

A fierce battle is likely to commence between Spain’s Ruth Beitia and Russia’s Mariya Kuchina, with the pair having cleared 1.99m and 1.98m respectively this summer.

35-year-old Beitia – the world indoor and outdoor bronze medallist and Euro indoor and outdoor champion – placed third in both Shanghai and Eugene, whilst Kuchina – the
21-year-old world indoor champion – took the honours in Oslo.

Poland’s Kamila Licwinko – the joint world indoor champion with Kuchina – should not be overlooked in this contest.

Men’s Long Jump –

Olympic champion, Greg Rutherford opened his 2014 outdoor campaign with a startling 8.51m British record and world-lead, and the 27-year-old should be victorious here.

However, Germany’s Christian Reif – the European indoor bronze medallist – will be looking to spoil the party, following his 8.49m lifetime best mark last month.

Women’s Long Jump –

France’s world indoor champion, Eloyse Lesueur has a 6.87m season’s best and the 25-year-old finished third in Eugene.

Hoping to upstage her senior rival will be Germany’s European junior champion, Malaika Mihambo who has leapt a 6.88m lifetime best this summer.

Also hoping to be in the mix will be world fifth placer, Olga Kucherenko of Russia.

Men’s Triple Jump –

Great Britain’s 2009 world champion, Phillips Idowu has returned to competition with a 16.99m season’s best and the 35-year-old goes up against Italy’s Olympic bronze medallist, Fabrizio Donato.

The 37-year-old was fourth in Rome and this contest promises to be a battle of the experienced men.

Women’s Triple Jump –

This event will see a close match-up between Russia’s world indoor champion, Yekaterina Koneva and Olympic bronze medallist, Olha Saladukha of Ukraine.

Second in Rome, 25-year-old Koneva has registered a 14.83m personal best this year, whilst 31-year-old Saladukha finished two places behind her in the Italian capital but should not be discounted for the win bearing in mind her 14.99m best.

Men’s Pole Vault –

One of the biggest stars of the show will be France’s Olympic and world indoor champion, Renaud Lavillenie.

The 27-year-old world record holder is expected to make light work of the competition, following his 5.92m season’s best and victories in Shanghai, Eugene, Hengelo, Oslo and Ostrava.

Of his challengers, Poland’s Piotr Lisek has leapt a 5.82m personal best this summer and Germany’s Tobias Scherbarth has a 5.73m season’s best.

Women’s Pole Vault –

Russia’s world indoor runner-up, Anzhelika Sidorova has cleared 4.60m this season, placing the 22-year-old as the pre-event favourite but Poland’s Anna Rogowska should not be ignored.

The 33-year-old 2009 world champion finished fifth in both Rome and New York, whilst Germany’s Katharina Bauer could also feature.

Men’s Javelin –

The Czech Republic’s Petr Frydrych placed fourth in Eugene and has a season’s best of 85.07m, and he will facePoland’s Lukasz Grzeszczuk – who registered a 84.77m personal best earlier in the season - and Sweden’s Kim Amb.

Women’s Javelin –

The home nation will harbour high hopes for Linda Stahl, who was victorious in New York last weekend with a 67.32m world-lead and lifetime best to boot.

The 28-year-old Olympic bronze medallist and 2010 European champion will have to beat the Czech Republic’s Olympic champion, Barbora Spotakova however, to please the German crowd.

The 32-year-old continues her comeback from maternity leave and took the win in Rome.

Men’s Shot Put –

In another tense battle, Germany’s David Storl will compete against Poland’s Tomasz Majewski.
Storl, the 23-year-old world champion will face two-time Olympic champion, Majewski – who is nine years his senior.

Women’s Shot Put –

Yet another local athlete aiming to impress is world indoor and outdoor runner-up, Christina Schwanitz.

The 28-year-old was second in Rome and has a 20.22m season’s best ahead of going up against Ukraine’s European under23 champion, Olha Holodnaya and Russia’s Irina Tarasova – the European silver medallist.

Men’s Discus –

Two more giants of men’s throwing will go head-to-head in another highly-anticipated duel, as Germany’s Robert Harting and Poland’s Piotr Malachowski clash.

29-year-old Harting – the Olympic, world and European champion – has won in Rome, Hengelo and New York this season, whilst Malachowski – the world silver medallist finished behind his great rival in Rome and New York.

Women’s Discus –

Germany’s 28-year-old Nadine Muller – the European silver medallist and fourth in both the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships – is the stand-out athlete in the field, following her fourth place position in Eugene.

The challenge is likely to come from Russia’s Yekaterina Strokova, who has thrown a 65.78m personal best this summer.

Men’s Hammer –

Poland’s world champion, Pawet Fajdek, 25, has the furthest season’s best of the field with a 79.65m effort, and Russia’s Sergey Litvinov should be another top contender.

Women’s Hammer –

Continuing Germany’s near-dominance in the throwing events, will be Olympic bronze medallist, Betty Heidler who has an impressive near-four meter advantage over the rest of the field in season’s bests with 78.00m.

The 30-year-old is followed by Poland’s Joanna Fiodorow – the 2011 European under23 runner-up – who has thrown a 74.39m lifetime best this year and Russia’s Anna Bulgakova, the European bronze medallist.

Men’s 4x100m Relay –

Great Britain and Northern Ireland have a strong chance of winning the short relay with the likes of world 200m fifth placer Adam Gemili, world indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty, Talbot and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey to call upon.

They will be challenged by the French squad who are bolstered by Vicaut and Lemaitre.

Women’s 4x100m Relay –

Again, the British are expected to lead the way as Jodie Williams, Bianca Williams, Anyika Onuora and Rachel Johncock team up.

The French quartet can rely on the speed of Soumare and Lesueur, whilst the Netherlands have Samuel and Schippers to assist.

Men’s 4x400m Relay –

Russia will field a typically strong outfit, featuring Pavel Ivashko, Vladimir Krasnov and Pavel Trenkikhin.

France will call upon middle-distance men, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse and Mame-Ibra Anne, and Great Britain will use Daniel Awde, Andrew Steele and Rabah Yousif.

Women’s 4x400m Relay –

The British team will use the skills of Child and Jodie Williams, in addition to Emily Diamond and Shana Cox.

Russia will be tough to beat with Davydova, Tamkova and Yekaterina Renzhina on their side, and Ukraine will field Lyakhova, Ryzhykova and Zemlyak.

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