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    Spanovic and Copello crowned Balkan Athletes of the Year

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    • Spanovic and Copello crowned Balkan Athletes of the Year

    The 6th Balkan Athletics Gala was held in Dubai on 19 November in partnership with the Gulf Countries Council Athletics. It was a great occasion to promote athletics and celebrate the success of Balkan Athletics in the glamorous Hotel Atlantis the Palm.

    European long jump gold medallist, Ivana Spanovic was crowned Balkan Athlete of the Year for a third time after 2013 and 2015. She started the season with silver at the World Indoor Championships in Portland where she set a national record of 7.07m. In Amsterdam she won with 6.90m and completed the series with a bronze in Rio and a new national record of 7.08.

    She then improved that national record to 7.10m in a street athletics event in Serbia promoting the Belgrade 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships.

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    Yasmani Copello Escobar of Turkey was named Male Balkan Athlete of the Year after becoming European champion over 400m hurdles with a national record of 48:42. He then improved that performance to 47:92 in Rio to win an Olympic bronze medal.

    Croatia’s Sara Kolak and Emmanouil Karalis of Greece were named Balkan Rising Stars of the Year. Sara Kolak is only 21 years old, but she showed her huge potential by taking bronze at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam and then surprised all the observers a few months later when she won an incredible Olympic gold in Rio with fantastic 66.18m throw which was a national record.

    Emmanouil Karalis, who just turned 17, had a promising season in the pole vault. He set a world youth record of 5.53i in February in Pireas, a month later he improved it to 5.54i in Jablonec, then corrected it once more to 5.55 in May in Ostrava. Karalis is the first European U18 pole vault champion after his gold medal winning achievement in Tbilisi.

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    The ceremony was hosted by UAE Athletics Federation and was attended by His Highness Sheikh Ahmad Bin Hashir Al Maktoom, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Excellency Saeid Harab, President of GCC and UAE Athletics, Ahmed Al Kamali.

    Balkan Athletics President Dobromir Karamarinov presented a plaque of gratitude to Sheikh Al Maktoom and received a sign of appreciation from Ahmed Al Kamali.