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    Zhoya scorches to a 12.98 clocking in the 110m hurdles semifinals in Tallinn

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    • Zhoya scorches to a 12.98 clocking in the 110m hurdles semifinals in Tallinn

    The precocious Sasha Zhoya stormed to a 12.98 clocking in the 110m hurdles semifinals on the second day of the Tallinn 2021 European Athletics U20 Championships on Friday (16) afternoon.

    His time was the fastest ever recorded by a junior in the U20 110m hurdles which stand at 99 centimetres (the world U20 record stands at 12.99 to France's Wilhem Belocian and Jamaica's Damion Thomas) although his time won’t be ratified as the wind was slightly above the legal limit at 2.4 m/s, not that Zhoya considered the breeze on his back as an advantage.

    “But for us as hurdlers, the wind is not such a big help at all. But it is written in the books so we have to accept it and let's hope for better wind and conditions in the final,” rued Zhoya who qualified as the fastest for tomorrow’s final by 0.46 ahead of 17-year-old Matthew Sophia from the Netherlands with 13.44.

    From a technical standpoint, Zhoya also thinks he can improve in the final. He added: “For me, I always get too close to the hurdles so I could be even faster with no wind or even the headwind. The ideal wind for me would be 0.3 or even -0.3.”

    After equalling the long-standing championship record in the 100m hurdles heats, Ditaji Kambundji claimed sole ownership of the mark in the semifinals. 

    Kambundji clocked 13.09 in the heats to match the 26-year-old record held by Yelena Krasovska from Ukraine - who went on to win Olympic silver in Athens 2004 - but Kambundji went even faster in her second race of the day, skimming over the hurdles before stopping the clock at 13.01.

    “I wanted this race to go exactly the same way as it did in the morning, just a little bit faster. I tried to stay focused and relaxed. I just pushed a bit harder. For the final, it will be the same again and I hope to get an even faster time,” said the 19-year-old.

    And this is by no means an unrealistic expectation as Kambundji has already broken the 13 second-barrier on three occasions this season.

    In the women’s 100m, Ireland’s Rhasidat Adeleke stormed to an expected gold medal in 11.34 to follow in the footsteps of her compatriot Gina Akpe Moses who won this title four years ago in Grosseto.

    Adeleke, who is based in Texas where she is studying and training under the tutelage of the highly respected Edrick Floreal, won by a clear margin from Serbia’s Ivana Ilic in 11.42 with Brit Joy Eze taking bronze in 11.44

    “I'm delighted, I'm just so happy to come here and consistently compete. It's been such a long season over with the NCAA [US collegiate circuit], and I was just so happy to be able to compete and perform - make my country proud,” she said.

    Adeleke also sailed through her 200m heat in 23.20 - the fastest time by more than four-tenths - and looks on course to become the first athlete to complete a sprint double at the European U20 Championships since Jodie Williams won both titles on this very same track a decade ago. 

    There was British success in the men’s 100m final with the long striding Toby Makoyawo raking to the title from lane six in a lifetime best of 10.25. The Brit was almost caught on line by France’s Jeff Erius on the outside lane and the 17-year-old was rewarded with his second European U18 best of the championships in 10.27.

    In the men’s 400m, British teammate Ed Faulds showed his strength in the home straight to run down Italian favourite Lorenzo Benati - 45.72 to 46.27 - and there was an expected gold medal in the women’s 400m for Poland’s Kornelia Lesiewicz in 52.46.

    Full results here.