It was the best of nights and the worst of nights for Dafne Schippers at the IFAM Meeting, a European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting, in Ghent on Saturday (10).
With the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham very much on her mind as she looks to improve on her silver medal from 2016, the Dutch superstar came flying out of the blocks in the 60m heats in 7.17 on her season’s opener.
One of the fastest times in Europe was all that Schippers was looking for on her winter’s debut, a good foundation for the final later in the evening.
But the final did not go quite as planned as Schippers suffered a false start and was duly shown the red card. Despite Schippers’ premature exit, her teammates still took first and second in the final courtesy of Jamile Samuel (7.21) beat Naomi Sedney (7.27), the latter who anchored the Netherlands to the 4x100m title at the European Championships in Amsterdam.
It was more frustration than anything else for the reigning two-time world 200m champion, who easily achieved the qualifying time for Birmingham but naturally wanted more of a workout.
“I came here to do two different races, not to go home after a race,” said Schippers, speaking to Dutch broadcaster NOS.
She will run in Apeldoorn at the Dutch Indoor Championships next weekend and in Glasgow en route to Birmingham where she will be one of Europe’s big hopes for a gold medal in the 60m.
First race of the season ♀ Despite the false start satisfied with the season opening of 7.17! pic.twitter.com/xBsnGYu1pu— Dafne Schippers (@dafneschippers) February 10, 2018
Lewandowski defeats Ingebrigtsen over 1500m
Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski was one of the stars of the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade last March when he took gold over 1500m having won the 800m title in Prague two years earlier.
A medal in Birmingham will be his next challenge and he will plot that after a tight victory ahead of Norway’s wunderkind Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who is 13 years Lewandowski's junior, 3:40.74 to 3:40.96. The 17-year-old improved his indoor lifetime best by nearly two seconds but just missed the World Indoor Championships qualifying standard of 3:39.50.
The men’s 60m did not bring the outcome most would have expected as Belgian Robin Vanderbemden gave the home crowd much to cheer about. In a field including the European 100m champion Churandy Martina, Vanderbemden - better known as being part of Belgium’s 4x400m team - produced one of the best individual results of his career, winning in 6.72 from Martina in 6.75.
Vanderbemden was not the only Belgian to have the home fans talking.
In Grosseto last summer, Jonathan Sacoor won bronze in the 400m at the European Athletics U20 Championships and now the 18-year-old has some big senior scalps to his name after a brilliant win in 47.17 to defeat Dylan Borlee (47.44) and Brazil’s Anderson Henriques (47.61).
Britain’s Zoey Clark was happy as well as she won the women’s 400m in 53.28, defeating the Netherlands’ Madiea Ghafoor (53.56).
On the comeback from injury, Belgian Eline Berings might have been the favourite in the 60m hurdles - even more so after her 8.05 in the heats - but she was pipped in the final by Eefje Boons, 8.12 to 8.13.
Stromsik closes in on Czech 60m record in Linz
There was another European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting on Saturday evening at the International Gugl Indoor Meeting in Linz where the Czech Republic’s Zdenek Stromsik was so close to rewriting history.
He won the 60m in 6.60 which was just 0.02 shy of a national record which has stood for 31 years. He will now head to Birmingham surely with that record in mind - unless he doesn’t break that mark in the build-up - after defeating Slovakia’s Jan Volko (6.63) and Turkey’s Emre Barnes, whose 6.64 was a national record.
Czech sprinters made it a double as Klara Seidlova won the women’s 60m in 7.27.
Elsewhere, Croatia’s Ivana Loncarek ran 8.26 to take the 60m hurdles, beating Austrian favourite Beata Schrott (8.27), but there was a home win in the long as heptathlete Ivona Dadic went out to 6.35m to defeat the individual specialists.