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    Maslak plotting a unique hat-trick

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    Pavel Maslak will tonight open an indoor season in Prague which could see him run his way into athletics folklore.

    He will be running the 300m and 500m.

    On the two occasions that the Czech Republic star has won gold at the European Athletics Indoor Championships he has broken records but if he makes it a glorious treble in March he will establish an even greater landmark.

    Maslak has confirmed his plans to go to Belgrade where he will aim to be the first man to win this 400m title on three occasions, let alone three times in a row.

    His triumph in front of a roaring, delighted home crowd in Prague two years ago saw Maslak become only the third athlete to successfully defend the crown, following in the footsteps of Great Britain's Du'aine Ladejo (1994 and 1996) and Ireland's David Gillick (2005 and 2007).

    And it shows how competitive the 400m is at these championships, or its predecessor between 1966 and 1969, the European Indoor Games.

    From the start until 1990, the championships were staged annually yet the defence of the men's 400m title remained elusive to the previous champion until Ladejo achieved it in Stockholm.

    Maslak, who is 26 next month, has taken real command of the distance, with his brilliant style of attacking the race so early, giving his rivals such a tough target to follow.

    When he won it for the first time in Gothenburg in 2013, his victory came in a national record of 45.66 and when he retained it amid the noise of the 02 Arena in Prague, he added even more gloss to his glory with a championship record of 45.33.

    In between those years he also became world indoor champion in Sopot, a gold medal he successfully defended in Portland last March having already established himself as a force outdoors with his 400m gold in Helsinki in 2012 before silver in Amsterdam last summer.

    One of the most decorated of Europe's current leading athletes, Maslak also has 400m races in Dusseldorf, Torun and Birmingham and then he will run in the 300m at the Czech Indoor Gala, a European Athletics Indoor Permit meeting, on February 14, just three weeks before Belgrade – and that date with history.