Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic is seeking a record fourth successive long jump title at the Torun 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships and the elder stateswoman of the event is rounding into form at just the right time.
Continuing her comeback from an injury which forced her to miss the majority of the 2020 season, Spanovic extended her season’s best to 6.75m to win at the Balkan Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday (20).
With Torun 2021 just over a week away, the reigning world indoor champion moves to fourth on the 2021 world indoor list which is led by 18-year-old Larissa Iapichino with 6.91m.
However, the host nation topped the medal table in the Atakoy Arena which will also be staging the 2023 European Athletics Indoor Championships, the first time Turkey will stage a flagship European Athletics competition.
Turkey won seven gold medals in total as well as four silver and bronze medals each ahead of Ukraine and Bulgaria with four and three gold medals respectively.
Highlights from a Turkish standpoint included Ilyas Canakci, who sprung to fame with his incredible anchor leg in the 4x400m relay final at the 2019 European U20 Championships, winning the individual 400m in 46.91 and Emel Dereli winning the shot put title with 18.13m.
Turkey’s rapidly improving pole vaulter Ersu Sasma, 21, cleared 5.60m before three attempts at a national record of 5.80m and European U23 silver medallist Tugba Danismaz won the triple jump with a national record of 13.97m.
The men’s horizontal jumps also provided some of the highlights of the one-day meeting. Reigning European indoor champion Nazim Babayev from Azerbaijan prepared for his title defence with 16.57m in the triple jump and former European indoor champion Izmir Smajlaj from Albania won the long jump with 7.91m by one centimetre from Romania’s Gabriel Bitan.
On the track, Romania’s former European U18 champion Andrea Miklos broke the 52 second-barrier in the 400m with 51.92 and Slovenian athletes dominated the middle distances. Marusa Mismas won the 1500m in a solo 4:09.43 and her teammate and training partner Klara Lukan, the European U20 5000m champion, won the 3000m in 8:58.73.
In total, 10 Member Federations won gold medals at the Balkan Indoor Championships and 14 Member Federations in totals left Turkey’s most populous city with a medal of some description.
European Athletics Interim President Dobromir Karamarinov, who is also the President of Balkan Athletics, was one of the dignatries on-site in Istanbul. This was the second significant event of the season on the Balkan athletics calendar following on from the Balkan Indoor U20 Championships which were held in Sofia, Bulgaria on 13 February.
Full results from the Balkan Indoor Championships can be found here.