Part 2 of 2.
N is for… Thiam Nafissatou
Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam was just sensational as she broke the national record 6810, the best in the world this year, to win Olympic heptathlon gold medal in Rio, still six days shy of her 22nd second birthday. Her success saw her beat Great Britain’s defending champion Jessica Ennis-Hill by 35 points in a performance where she also set five personal best marks – in the 100m hurdles, high jump (where her 1.98m along with Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson is a heptathlon world best), long jump, javelin and 800m. In October, Thiam’s success was honoured when she was named the 2016 Female Rising Star at the Golden Tracks European Athlete of the Year awards in Funchal.
O is for...OLYMPIC glory
Another year, another world record for the greatest woman hammer thrower of all time – Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk as she celebrated her Olympic glory in spectacular fashion. Having become the first woman to break 80m in 2015, she extended her world record to 82.29m in Rio as she retained her Olympic title. Just a few weeks earlier, Wlodarczyk had made it a hat-trick of European titles with victory in Amsterdam with 78.14m.
P is for...Portland but then pain
The venue for this year’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in March turned into a weekend to remember for Italy’s high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi in what became a year of the greatest mixed emotions. He won gold here in Oregon with 2.36m and then in July in Amsterdam, he became the European champion, making him the favourite for Olympic gold. But a month before Rio, Tamberi suffered the nightmare of an ankle ligament injury while competing in the Diamond League in Monaco. It left him screaming with pain and ruled him out of the Games.
Q is for...Quality
That is what French pole vault superstar Renaud Lavillenie brought to the final European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting series this year with a world-leading 6.03m at the Jablonec Indoor Gala. He started with a first time clearance at 5.74m, a height only one other athlete, Czech Republic’s Jan Kudlicka managed to clear, and his performance just got better.
R is for...I RUN Clean
At difficult times for the sport, the message within European Athletics remains clear in the battle against doping. Competitors at the European Athletics Championship in Amsterdam wore bibs with “I Run Clean”, “I Jump Clean”, “I Throw Clean”, and “I Am Clean” for combined events. And at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships this month, athletes carried the ‘I Run Clean’ message on their bibs.
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S is for...SOLOMON Bockarie
Dutchman Solomon Bockarie, who missed out on a medal at the European Athletics Championships by the narrowest of margins, became one of the stars of the European Athletics Classic Permit meetings this summer. Bockarie ran the best 200m of his life in Velenje at the end of August as he lowered his personal best by 0.02 to win in 20.37 ahead of Germany’s Patrick Domogala (20.91) and Austria’s Christoph Haslauer (22.21).
In Amsterdam, Bockarie had finished fourth in the 200m final in 20.56, the same time as Britain’s bronze medallist Danny Talbot, having broken his personal best in the semis (20.39).
T is for...Triple jumper
And one in particular – Max Hess. Like Thiam in Rio, Hess won a major gold just before his birthday as four days ahead of turning 20, Hess leaped to glory at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam in July. He had already established his position on the senior ranks with silver at the World Indoor Championships in Portland in March and now he took that one step up the podium in the Netherlands in brilliant style, taking the title with his second round jump of 17.20m and it was his only registered mark in the final. His success led to him being named the Male Rising Star at the Golden Track awards.
U is for...Under-20s
Bydgoszcz staged the IAAF World Under-20 Championships where European athletes banked 12 gold medals including Klaudia Maruszewska in the javelin for Poland, the host nation, Montenegro’s Kristina Rakocevic in the discus and Callum Wilkinson wining the 10,000m walk for Great Britain’s first walking global gold for 52 years since Ken Matthews won the 20km title at the Olympic Games in Rio.
V is for...Anouk VETTER
On the fourth day of the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam, Dutch athlete Anouk Vetter managed to outshine even home heroine Dafne Schippers as she won heptathlon gold.
And her score of 6626 broke Schippers’ national heptathlon record of 6545 too – winning by 168 points from France’s Antoinette Nana Djimou, who was chasing a hat-trick of European golds and Austria’s Ivona Dadic (6408). The 800m might have been the final event but the sixth discipline was where victory was sealed as Vetter produced a personal best throw of 55.76m in the javelin that left her dancing in delight.
W is for...Waiting
Which is exactly what Bernard Dematteis did as he produced an extraordinary moment to show the true spirit of brotherly love on a golden day for the host nation Italy at the European Mounting Running Championships in Arco in July. A double champion at the event, Bernard had dominated the 12.31km race on a course near Lake Garda but before reaching the finishing line, he waited on the final straight so his 30-year-old twin Martin could come through to be crowned champion. The brothers were separated by just a second, 53:33 to 53:34, and the two men held Italian flags as they embraced together.
X is for... XCountry
It has been an exciting cross country season with the greatest highlight taking place at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Chia on 11 December. Several of the continent's top distance runners took part in Southern Sardinia in what was a terrific individual and team contest. We look forward to seeing how Team Europe performs during the Great Edinburgh XCountry on 7 January, the team selection having been based on reults at Euro Cross.
Y is for...Youth
Between July 14-17, Tbilisi staged the first European Athletics Youth Championships, the start of a biennial event that will bring through so many stars of tomorrow. It was a superb four days of action as almost 900 athletes took part from 46 nations with personal bests galore. Ukraine’s Alina Shukh, 17, was one of the outstanding stars as she broke the world youth heptathlon best score, winning gold with 6186 points and beating Austria’s Sarah Lagger, who a week later became World under-20 heptathlon champion. Great Britain topped the table with 13 medals including five golds.
Z is for...Zigismunds Sirmais
The men’s javelin final at the European Athletics Championship was a sensational event and showed just how the biggest occasion can bring the best out of a competitor. Latvian Zigismunds Sirmais might not have been the name on everyone’s lips as the gold medallist before the action began and though he led after the first round with 81.86m, that all changed as the Czech Republic’s Vitezslav Vesely threw 83.59m and Finland’s Antti Ruuskanen reached 82.44m. But then in round five Sirmais struck gold with the greatest throw of his career, a memorable personal best of 86.66m for a moment he will never forget.