Sweden's Maja Askag enhanced her status as one of the breakthrough performers at the Tallinn 2021 European Athletics U20 Championships by winning her second gold medal on the last day of competition in the Kadriorg Stadium on Sunday (18).
Having already won the triple jump title, Askag went on to double her title haul with a gold medal in a thrilling and high quality long jump final. In doing so, Askag became just the second female jumper in history to sweep both horizontal jumps titles at the European Athletics U20 Championships after Russia’s Anastasiya Ilyina in 2001.
Askag broke new ground in the triple jump - which she considers her primary event - when she broke the 14 metre-line for the first time in the final with 14.05m to come within seven centimetres of Ilyina’s long-standing championship record but her performance in the long jump final was arguably even better; and certainly the more unexpected.
Askag had qualified for the final with a lifetime best of 6.45m but this mark underwent further revision this evening. The 18-year-old took the lead in the second round with 6.54m before taking full advantage of the benign conditions and an advantageous tailwind to further extend her advantage.
While her subsequent marks won’t be considered lifetime bests, Askag crested a 4.1 m/s tailwind in the third round to improve to 6.60m. After briefly losing her lead to Spain’s Tessy Ebosele in the fifth round with 6.63m, Askag immediately regained the lead with another wind-assisted jump of 6.75m.
The medal positions behind Askag were in flux throughout a dramatic sixth round but nobody could surpass the Swede’s lead. And with her second gold medal confirmed, Askag defied her leaden legs with the last jump of the final to glide out to 6.80m with only a marginally illegal following wind of 2.2 m/s for assistance.
“It was a great weekend. Two titles - I just cannot believe it. I was about to cry when I realised that I won today. That was something I really did not count on. My preferred event has always been the triple jump because I was better in it. But last year, we also developed the long jump and it is nice to switch the events.
“I think the triple jump is much harder for the body so I am really glad that the first event at these championships was the triple. My legs were getting a bit heavy from all the jumping,” said the winner.
Behind Askag, Ebosele came away with the silver medal with her fifth round jump of 6.63m. A jubilant Laura Raquel Muller briefly moved into bronze medal position with her sixth round jump of 6.61m but she was shunted out of the medals by her German teammate and European leader Mikaelle Assani who eclipsed Muller’s mark by an agonising one centimetre to reach the podium.
Sweden won three of the four horizontal jump titles on offer in Tallinn as Askag’s compatriot Gabriel Wallmark dominated the triple jump earlier in the final day programme. All three of his valid jumps would have won the title and his winning mark of 16.39m in the first round also represented the best jump in the world by an U20 this year.
His mark also broke Christian Olsson’s Swedish U20 record of 16.30m. And the reward for his success? Ten pizzas!
“Now, I just want to celebrate with my friends. We have a bet and now they owe me 10 pizzas for breaking a national record!” he said.
Bulgaria’s Dimitar Tashev won silver with 16.18m and Viktor Morozov won one of two medals for hosts Estonia on the final day of competition in Tallinn with 16.14m.
The other medal came in the women’s high jump as Britt Weerman broke the spell of seven silver medals for the Netherlands in Tallinn with a 1.88m clearance for gold ahead of neutral athlete Natalya Spiridinova and Estonia’s Elisabeth Pihela who both cleared 1.86m to win silver and bronze on countback.
Full results here.