Record-Breaking Performances Highlight Thrilling Start to European Athletics Championships in Rome

Posted by: Watch Athletics

The 2024 European Athletics Championships commenced on Friday, June 7 in Rome, showcasing record-breaking performances and thrilling competition.

Mixed 4x400 relay: 

The Irish team formed by Thomas Barr, Rhasidat Adeleke, Chris O’Donnell, and Sharlene Mawdsley won the gold medal in the 4x400 mixed relay in a national record of 3:09.92 (the fifth fastest time in history) ahead of Italy (3:10.69) and the Netherlands (3:10.73). The mixed relay made its debut at these championships. 

Ireland had won only one gold medal winner in the history of the European Championships since this event began in Turin in 1934. The only Irish champion in the history of these championships was Sonia O’Sullivan, who won a total of three track titles at the 1994 and 1998 editions. 

Italian emerging talent Luca Sito ran the first leg in 44.75 to earn Italy the lead in the first leg. Anna Polinari was in the lead at the break and ran her split in 51.10, but Adeleke and Lieke Klaver took over at 200 metres. 

Adeleke produced a surge on the second leg with a split of 49.53 to open up a five-metres lead for Ireland and handed over to Thomas Barr in the lead. 

Alexander Doom ran his split in 44.16 to move Belgium in the lead in the third leg.  

Mawdsley took over from 400m hurdler Thomas Barr in second place and ran the anchor leg in 49.40 to move into the lead again and brought Ireland home the gold medal. Edoardo Scotti ran his split in 44.78. Belgium, Italy and Ireland were in the lead in the final leg. 

Alice Mangione ran her leg in 50.06 to earn Italy the silver medal. The Italian team smashed the Italian record by almost three seconds with 3:10.69, the sixth fastest time in the world all-time list. 

Femke Bol was some way back in fourth place in the final leg. The 400m hurdles champion ran faster than Mawdsley in 49.21 and moved past Belgium’s Helena Ponette helping the Dutch team win the bronze medal.  

Belgium finished fourth in a national record of 3:11.03. 

Thomas Barr: “I think we surprised we surprised a lot of people here and we definitely surprised ourselves, but we also had a great confidence that if there is a right day. There is no reason why we could not come home with a medal. I was secretly confident that with the team that we have out here and how well they were running at the moment, especially after World Relays. I was confident that we could come home with the gold. That is exactly what we did”. 

Men's Discus Throw:

Kristjan Ceh won the gold medal in the men’s discus with 68.08m in the second round. Ceh upgraded his silver medal from the previous edition of Munich 2022 to gold at Rome 2024. 

Mykolas Alekna took the lead with 66.98m in the second round surpassing Daniel Stahl’s mark of 66.68m, but Ceh responded with 68.08m. Alekna threw the discus to 67.48m in the fourth round after a foul in the third round. Daniel Stahl improved to 66.84m to take third place, just six centimetres ahead of Lukas Weisshaidinger from Austria. 

Weisshaidinger moved into second place with a fifth-round throw of 67.70m ahead of world record holder

Alekna. Ceh produced his second best throw of the competition of 67.93m. 

Kristjan Ceh: “I finally got my self-confidence back. I felt ready. Technically it was going quite well in training so I was 100% prepared. Still, there were some technical imperfections which I need to work on and I think I will be in better shape in Paris.” 

World record holder and defending champion Mykolas Alekna from Lithuania set the top mark of 67.50m in the qualifying round in the men’s discus round in the morning session. Alekna was the only thrower to reach the automatic qualifying mark of 66.00m. Slovenia’s 2022 world champion Kristjan Ceh and reigning Olympic champion Daniel Stahl advanced to the final with throws of 65.64m and 63.29m respectively. 

Women’s 20 km walking race: 

Antonella Palmisano won the European gold medal in the 20 km walking race in 1:28:08 in front of her home fans inside the Olympic Stadium after completing 19 laps of the Foro Italico. Italian 38-year-old veteran Valentina Trapletti completed the Italian double by winning the silver medal in 1:28:37 a few weeks after claiming the win in the mixed relay with Francesco Fortunato at the World Waling Team Championships in Antalya. Lyudmila Olyanovska from the Ukraine moved past Spain’s Laura Garcia Caro in the final stages to win a thrilling battle for third place and crossed the finish-line in 1:28:47. Garcia Caro had started to celebrate a few metres before the finish-line. 

It’s the second Italian double in the history of the European Championships 26 years after Annarita Sidoti won the gold medal beating Erica Alfridi in Budapest 1998. Sidoti won another title in Split 1990. 

Antonella Palmisano: “I took the control from the start of the race. I thank my husband and coach Lorenzo Dessi and my team: Pietro Mennea won the 200m when the European Championships were last held in the Olympic Stadium in 1974. He came from my region. He wrote his story here and accompanied me during my race. In 2022 I was broken and in 2023 I opened my eyes. In 2024 I am here. The injury following the Olympics changed me a lot because that where you understand you have a strength inside that changes and supports you. After injury and surgery I fully understood what I really wanted to continue to compete. For me there are positive vibes because we are competing at home and we are also going to have energy from spectators”. 

Valentina Trapletti: “t was an amazing race. I felt the support from the crowd. If Antonella Palmisano is the queen of Rome, I am the princess. It’s really incredible to get this silver medal. The audience supported us each metre of the race. Rome is a kind of magic and at a certain point I lost focus and felt like I didn’t understand anything. When I entered the stadium, I got emotional. I achieved this medal at 38 and I understood and it’s never too late”

Palmisano made her decisive move at 10 km and opened up a 17-second gap on the rest of the field at 14 km. 

Palmisano went through the 15 km in 1:06:21 after a split between 10 and the 15 km in 21:36 and opened up a gap of 26 seconds over a chasing group formed by Valentina Trapletti, Garcia Caro, Montesinos, Lyudmila Olyanovska and French walkers Camille Moutard and Clemence Beretta. 

Palmisano went through the first 10 km in 44:45 and clocked 43:24 in the second half of the race. 

Trapletti held off held off the challenge of Garcia Caro and crossed the finish-line in 1:28:37 improving her PB by one minute.  

Women’s 5000 metres: 

European under 23 cross country champion Nadia Battocletti won the women’s 5000 metres setting the Italian record and the championships record with 14:35.29. 

Karoline Bjerkelj Grovdal from Norway, who broke Grete Waitz’s national record of 3000 metres at the Bislett Games in Oslo, won the silver medal with with 14:38.62 following her bronze medals in the 10000m in Amsterdam 2016 and in the 3000 metres steeplechase in Berlin 2018. Marta Garcia from Spain set a national record of 14:44.04 to claim the bronze medal. Maureen Koster from the Netherlands finished fourth setting a personal best of 14:44.46. Nathalie Blomqvist took fifth place in a national record of 14:44.72. 

Grovdal ran a brave race and was in the lead ahead of Battocletti with two laps to go in a group of five athletes. Battocletti pulled away in the final straight and launched her kick to take the win to the delight of the home fans. Battocletti set her previous national record of 14:41.30 at the Diamond League in London last year. 

Nadia BattoclettI: “It was a tough race. It was not easy for me to maintain that pace but in the last two laps I felt that I had the opportunity to take something very important. I went through some physical troubles in the last month and I was not confident to get this medal but all the friends of mine and all the Italian supporters gave me a lot of energy into the stadium. This is a gold medal for everyone who believe in somewhat. It is a gold medal for my medal and coach Giuliano. His experience as former athlete guarantees me a lot of perfect tips and suggestion. He suggested me to wait until the last metres before overtaking Grovdal. I did exactly this and it worked”. 

Women’s shot put: 

Jessica Schilder from the Netherlands retained her European title from Munich 2022 with 18.77m in the first round. Jorinde Van Klinken completed the Dutch double by finishing second with 18.67m ahead of Yemisi Ogunleye from Germany with 18.62m. 

Women’s heptathlon (first day): 

Two-time Olympic, world and European champion Nafissatou Thiam took the early lead after the first two events with 2186 points. 

Thiam opened with a seventh place in 13.74 into a headwind of -0.1 m/s. The Belgian athlete cleared all heights until 1.95m in her first attempt to win the high jump in her strongest attempt. She failed one single attempt at 1.98m before deciding to save energy for the next events. 

Two-time world indoor champion Noor Vidts from Belgium started her competition with a personal best of 13.16 in the 100 metres hurdles and cleared 1.80m in the high jump to rank in second place with 2078 points. 

Italian indoor pentathlon record holder Sveva Gerevini set her PBs in the 100 metres hurdles with 13.35 and in the high jump with 1.80m to sit in third place with 2050 points. Gerevini finished fourth at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow last March. 

World champion Katarina Johnson Thompson clocked 13.66 in the 100 metres hurdles and cleared 1.80m in the high jump to sit in fourth place with 2043 points. 

Auriana Lazraq from France smashed her PBs to 13.35 in the 100 metres hurdles to 15.27m in the shot put to move into third place with 2892 points. She held a previous lifetime best of 14.03m. Thiam still led in the overall standing with 3051 points after a solid throw of 15.06m. Vidts set a lifetime best of 14.70m to stay in contention for a medal in second place with 2925 points. 

Gerevini set her third PB of the first day with 23.82 in the first 200 metres heat. Vidts won the second heat with a seasonal best of 23.85, just 15 hundredths of a second off her PB. Sophie Weissenberg won the third heat with 23.53m. Lazraq Klass improved her PB to 23.56. Katharina Johnson Thompson withdrew from the competition due to a small injury on her right leg. The British ended her competition with 12.44m in the shot put. Thiam clocked 24.81 in the 200 metres to end the first day with 3956 points ahead of Vidts (3920) and Lazraq Khlass (3915). 

Men’s long jump qualifying round: 

Simon Ehammer set a world lead of 8.41m in the men’s long jump qualifying round. Ehammer won the world bronze medal in the long jump in Eugene and the European silver medal in the decathlon in Munich in 2022. 

Jakob Fincham qualified with the second best mark of 8.18m. 

Mattia Furlani, who set the world under 20 record with 8.36m in Savona, reached the final with 8.17m into a headwind of -1.0 m/s. Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou got through to the final with 8.14m in the first round. 

Men’s shot put qualifying round: 

World silver medallist Leonardo Fabbri led the qualifying round with 21.10m. Marcus Thomsen and Filip Mihaljevic qualified with the same mark of 20.69m. Wictor Petterson from Sweden set a seasonal best of 20.69m. 

Zane Weir got through as the last qualifier with 19.71m after being sidelined for four weeks due to an ankle injury. 

Leonardo Fabbri: “I did not throw well this evening. I know that 21.10m will not enough to reach the final at the Olympic Games. I wanted to throw over the 22 metres barrier. I am proud that my friend and training partner Zane Weir managed to get through to the final after the injury”. 

Women’s discus throw qualifying round: 

Sandra Elkasevic got through to the final of the women’s discus throw with 65.62m in the second round, easily exceeding the automatic qualifying mark of 62.50m. 

Jorinde Van Klinken from the Netherlands reached tomorrow’s final with a seasonal best of 65.12m. 

Women’s shot put qualifying round: 

Sweden’s Fanny Roos topped the women’s shot put qualifying round with 18.70m. Defending champion Jessica Schilder from the Netherlands produced the fourth best throw with 18.32m. Van Klinken also qualified for the final with 18.13m. 

Women’s triple jump qualifying round: 

Alexandra Nacheva from Bulgaria topped the women’s qualifying round in the women’s triple jump with 14.29m ahead of European indoor champion Tugba Danismaz from Turkey (14.27m) and Spain’s Ana Peleteiro Compaoré (14.21m). 

Men’s 800 metres heats: 

Olympic finalist Gabriel Tual from France won the first heat in the men’s 800 metres in 1:45.69 ahead of Italian rising star Francesco Pernici (1:45.87). Alvaro De Arriba from Spain took the third automatic qualifying spot in 1:46.03. 

Paul Anselmini from France won the fourth heat in 1:44.73. The Frenchman ran the fastest ever 800 metres heat in the history of the European Championships. Jakob Dudycha finished second with 1:44.89. Italian indoor record holder Catalin Tecuceanu claimed third place in 1:44.93. 

World indoor bronze medallist Elliot Crestan from Belgium, European under 20 champion Niels Laros and two-time European bronze medallist Mark English from Ireland did not get through to the semifinals.  

Men’s 100 metres heats: 

Pablo Mateo from France won the first 100m heats clocking the fastest qualifying time with 10.18 ahead of Matteo Melluzzo from Italy (10.21). Mateo won the silver medal in the 4x100 relay at the European Championships in Munich and set a 200m PB with 20.03 this year.

The Championships continue to showcase the best of European athletics, with many more exciting events and potential record-breaking performances to come.

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