A thrilling heptathlon was decided with the last event while the decathlon saw one man in total charge but it was Lithuania who won the European Combined Events Team Championships Second League, which was staged alongside the First League in Monzon, Spain.
Slovakia’s Lucia Slanickova triumphed in the heptathlon with a personal best of 5816 from Lithuania’s two-time Olympic medallist Austra Skujyte, who was second with 5784 and Ireland’s Kate O’Connor took third with 5632, also a personal best.
Norway’s Martin Roe led all the way to win the decathlon with a personal best of 8144, the first time he has broken 8000 points, from teammate Lars Rise, who was second with 7448.
Lithuania won the team contest with 36,838 points to earn promotion along with Latvia, who were second with 35,261. Despite Roe’s efforts, Denmark just missed out on promotion and were third with 35,026.
At 37, Skujyte once more proved what an amazing competitor she remains as she spearheaded Lithuania’s surge to the team title but, in the end she was pipped to individual glory by an equally fine performance from Slanickova who had too much for her in the 800m.
Slanickova went ahead after her 100m hurdles in 14.08 while Skujyte ran 14.42 before her Lithuanian teammate Diana Pranckute took overall lead when she won the high jump with 1.78m.
Skujyte moved in front after the third discipline, the shot put, which is always one of her best.
She won with an opening 16.08m and led with 2695 after three events from Norway’s Charlotte Lund Abrahamsen (2631) and Pranckute (2478), with Denmark’s Sandra Boll in fourth (2462) and Slanickova in fifth (2443).
However, Slanickova moved up to third overnight as she had the quickest time in the 200m, a personal best of 24.80, to sit behind Skujyte (3446) and Abrahamsen (3428).
Slanickova started the second day well to narrow the lead, winning the long jump with 6.00m from Skujyte’s 5.77m, with the Lithuanian now just 28 points ahead on 4226.
As Greece’s Sofia Ifantidou won the javelin with 56.41, Skujyte 47.27m stretched her advantage although Slanickova threw a personal best of 44.02m, leaving just the 800m to go, and what a finale it proved.
[PHOTO src='1281539' size='mediumLandscape' align='right']
They entered that final event with Skujyte, the 2004 Olympic silver medallist and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, ahead with 5033 points from Slanickova’s 4943 and Ifantidou third with 4935.
Slanickova and Ifantidou were running in the first heat and the Slovak athlete, who was ninth in the heptathlon at the 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships in March, delivered as she would have hoped and won in 2:16.39, with Ifantidou coming home fourth in 2:30.46.
It took Slanickova onto 5816 with O’Connor now into second with 5632 after she was second in the first race in 2:17.30 and Ifantidou third overall with 5622.
The gauntlet was thrown down to Skujyte in the second heat but she could just not do enough, finishing fourth in 2:25.46 as Denmark’s Mathilde Diekema Jensen won in 2:18.29.
It meant Skujyte finished the two days of competition just 32 points shy of Slanickova
Roe had put down his marker from the first discipline, the 100m, which he won in a personal best of 10.79 and was the only man to dip under 11 seconds from the 27 runners.
He then maintained his fine start by then clearing 7.33m in the long jump for a total of 1801 and a clear advantage from Iceland’s Tristan Freyr Jonsson Jonsson, who was second after two events with 1668.
Onto the shot put and there was no stopping Roe, who had his second personal best with 15.44m, with Belgium’s Niels Pittomvils moving up to second on 2312.
Pittomvils narrowed the gap as he won the fourth event, the high jump, with 2.01m while Roe cleared 1.92m and Rise was second with 1.98m, but Roe won his 400m heat in 49.64 for an overnight total of 4180 from Pittomvils (3907) and Rise (3858).
Pittomvils started well on Sunday in pursuit of Roe, winning their heat of the 110m hurdles (15.21) as his rival was fifth (15.37) but Roe still had more than two hundred points advantage after six events as he led with 4985 from Pittomvils (4731) and Jonsson (4614).
Roe consolidated that lead as he won the discus with another personal best of 49.19m.
It was a big moment because he was now in charge with 5839 from Pittomvils (5376) after his 39.02m with Rise back into third (5294) after his 41.92m.
The Belgian won the pole vault with 5.00m as Roe and Rise both went over 4.50m so, with two events left, Roe was in front with 6599 from Pittomvils (6286) and Rise (6054) but the penultimate discipline, the javelin, sadly saw the end of the Belgian’s challenge as he pulled out.
Roe was on the home straight now as he won it with 66.13m to move his score up to 7429 and his victory was confirmed after the opening heat of the 1500m which he won in 4:34.60, with Rise second to him in that race in 4:36.82.