Tuesday September 27, 2022

Zakalnytskyy and Henriques walk to European glory

By Reutes
August 08, 2018

BERLIN: Ukrainian Maryan Zakalnytskyy and Portugal’s Ines Henriques were the first two champions crowned at the European Athletics Championships on Tuesday when they delivered exceptional 50 kilometre race walk triumphs.

On a hot morning around the streets of Berlin, both athletes defied draining conditions to comfortably eclipse their opposition.The 23-year-old Zakalnytskyy was a surprise winner of the men’s race, beating Slovakia’s Olympic champion Matej Toth by 55 seconds in three hours, 46 minutes and 32 seconds.

Henriques, the remarkable 38-year-old who won the world title in London last year, then took the women’s crown in 4:09:21, three minutes and 23 seconds clear of Ukraine’s silver medallist Alina Tsviliy.

The conditions ruled out any prospect of Henriques attacking Chinese Liang Rui’s world record time of 4:04:36 set in May this year at the race walking team championships in Taicang.“If it had not been so hot today, I could have aimed for a better time, but I’m very pleased to add the European title to the world title from last year,” Henriques said.

Frenchman Kevin Mayer, hot favourite to win the decathlon title at the European Championships, blew his chances completely in the second of the 10 events on Tuesday when he fouled in all three of his long jump attempts.

The Olympic silver medallist was leading the competition to find Europe’s top all-round athlete after a 10.64 seconds run in 100 metres before he made the inexplicable error which effectively rules him out of medal contention.

Having fouled his first two jumps in the Olympic Stadium, just a safe third would have sufficed for the 26-year-old but he again edged over the take-off board with an unnecessarily aggressive approach on his final attempt.

Mayer, who had sailed well beyond the leading mark with his last no-jump, put his hands on his head in despair after immediately realising his error.“I have to say I’m really, really disappointed with what happened. I had such high expectations of myself and all I can do is apologise,” said Mayer, although he was adamant that he had no regrets about his attacking approach.

Germany’s Olympic discus champion Christoph Harting was another shock early casualty when he failed to record a mark with any of his three qualifying round throws and so did not make the final.“I cannot find an explanation. This is really frustrating not to know why,” said Harting, after watching his throws plough into the safety net.