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    Thiam takes three steps towards regaining her European indoor pentathlon title

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    • Thiam takes three steps towards regaining her European indoor pentathlon title

    Olympic and European champion Nafissatou Thiam is more than halfway to earning a second European indoor pentathlon title after a strong showing in this morning’s first three disciplines in an event that will conclude in the Arena Torun tonight. 

    The Belgian, who had to miss her national indoor championships last month after testing positive for coronavirus, got off to a decent start as she won her 60 metres hurdles heat in a season’s best of 8.31 ahead of Austria’s world indoor silver medallist Ivona Dadic, who clocked 8.38. 

    The other heat saw 20-year-old Holly Mills, carrying the British banner in her first senior international appearance in the absence of reigning champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson due to injury, win in 8.22

    Switzerland’s Annik Kalin was 0.01 behind her, with third and fourth placed Xenia Krizsan of Hungary and world leader Noor Vidts both being credited with a personal best of 8.27. Kalin, however, took no further part in the competition due to injury.

    That left Thiam in fifth place after the opening event on 1059 points, with Mills leading on 1079. 

    The Briton, who won the European U18 long jump title in 2016, then set a personal best of 1.74m in the high jump and came close to clearing 1.77m. 

    Thiam, with an indoor best of 1.96m and an outdoor best of 2.02m, sat out most of the high jump, coming in at 1.80m and – after Vidts had ended her involvement having set a personal best of 1.83m - moving on alone to clear 1.86m and 1.89m before failing at 1.92m. 

    That was enough to move her into the lead on 2152 points and Thiam strengthened her grip on the event by winning the shot put with an effort of 15.16m from Krizsan, who set a personal best of 14.48m. 

    The Belgian, who won this title in 2017 after taking silver in 2015, goes into tonight’s concluding long jump and 800 metres in gold medal position with 3024 points. Vidts is second on 2867, and the final podium place is held by Krizsan, who has 2835. 

    Dutch athlete Nadine Broersen, who won the world indoor pentathlon title in Sopot seven years ago, is fourth on 2759.

    Bol passes early morning 400m test

    Femke Bol, the tall 21-year-old Dutch athlete who leads the European indoor 400m list with 50.64 looked supremely comfortable as she won the opening heat in 52.77 to reach this evening’s semifinals.  

    Her 22-year-old friend and training partner Lieke Klaver, second in the European list on 51.21, soon joined her although she had to work slightly harder to win her heat in 52.74. 

    Home runner Justyna Święty-Ersetic, third in this year’s European list with 51.80, won her heat in 52.07 ahead of Great Britain’s Jessie Knight in 52.17.

    Another member of the Bol and Klaver training group in Papendal in the Netherlands, Switzerland’s reigning champion Lea Sprunger, qualified in second place as Ireland’s Phil Healy won in 52.00 – the fastest of the round and just 0.01 off her personal best - after controlling the race throughout. 

    Lisanne De Witte, the third powerful Dutch contender who is on the comeback from injury, also moved through after a conservative start. In a scrappy last lap, De Witte jostled past Lada Vondrova for second place, 52.82 to 52.83, in a race won by Great Britain’s Ama Pipi in 52.63.

    Tony Van Diepen from the Netherlands was the fastest qualifier for this evening’s men’s 400m semifinals, clocking 46.54. Fellow Dutchmen Liemarvin Bonevacia and Jochem Dobber also won their heats in 46.69 and 47.05.

    Iapichino and Mihambo make it through to the long jump final...but only just

    Italy’s 19-year-old Larissa Iapichino, who recently set a world indoor U20 record and world-leading mark of 6.91m, needed a final third-round effort of 6.70m to rescue her chances of qualifying for tomorrow evening’s final. 

    Had she not managed a mark that left her as the second longest qualifier behind the 6.78m managed by Sweden’s Khaddi Sagnia, Iapichino would have finished adrift of the top eight of one of the most competitive events of the championships.

    “The track here is great and really fast, but because of that I was having problems on my first two jumps. I had to adjust the runup and only got it right on my final attempt,” said Iapichino.

    Reigning world and European champion Malaika Mihambo from Germany was also a long way adrift of a qualifying spot after two jumps but the habitual seven metre-plus performer scraped into the fray with her third attempt of 6.58m. 

    That eighth and final place was occupied by Nastassia Mironchuk-Ivanova of Belarus, the silver medallist in Glasgow two years ago, who also saved herself with a last round effort of 6.55m. 

    Portugal’s double world silver medallist Pedro Pablo Pichardo required just one effort to move into Sunday morning’s men’s triple jump final, registering 17.03 metres, comfortably clear of the automatic qualifying mark of 16.80m. 

    “The Arena is really good, I like it here,” said Pichardo. “My aim is to win.” 

    Max Hess of Germany also required just one jump, reaching 16.86m, as did Alexis Copello of Azerbaijan, who recorded 16.84 although France’s 22-year-old Melvin Raffin of France, a world U20 and European U20 bronze medallist, was a surprise casualty after missing the top eight with his best of 15.29m. 

    Hodgkinson one of three Brits to qualify for the 800m semifinal

    In the women’s 800m heats, Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson, who set a now-surpassed world indoor U20 800m record of 1:59.03 this year, was an easy winner. 

    Hodgkinson - mentored by Jenny Meadows, world bronze medallist and 2011 European indoor champion at 800 metres and coached by her husband Trevor Painter – clocked 2:05.63.

    Her teammates Isabelle Boffey and Ellie Baker, both of whom have also won medals at age-group level continentally, also qualified with 2:04.08 and 2:06.75 respectively.  

    Home runner Joanna Jozwik is carrying heavy expectation from the home nation, but dealt well enough with her opening heat to win in 2:05.19, with Switzerland’s European indoor champion of 2015 and 2017, Selina Buchel – now Rutz-Buchel – just making the third qualifying spot. 

    “It's been four years since I last ran in a major championship meet, but the emotion and the adrenaline of it is something you don't forget,” said Jozwik, who finished fifth in the Olympic 800m final five years ago. 

    Another Pole, Anna Wielgosz, put up the fastest time of the morning, winning her heat in a personal best of 2:02.79, the fastest of the morning. 

    Poland’s European shot put champion Michal Haratyk lived up to home expectations for tonight’s final with a second round effort of 21.02m, the second best of the round behind the lifetime best of 21.04m registered by Francisco Belo of Portugal.