Iryna Zhuk and Tatiana Khaladovich made it a night to remember for Belarus at the Meeting Stanislas Nancy Pro Athle Tour in Nancy, a European Athletics Classic Permit Meeting, on Wednesday (27).
Zhuk showed just how the smallest of margins can make a difference as she won the pole vault with a personal best of 4.66m to break the eight-year national record by a centimetre.
Anastasiya Shvedova had set that mark at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona in 2010 when she was fourth, missing out on a podium place on countback as Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg and Lisa Ryzih won silver and bronze respectively with the same height of 4.65m.
But Zhuk's success here was a notable improvement on her lifetime best of 4.60m for the 25-year-old who last year won gold medal at the World University Games in Taipei.
She will now head to Berlin with renewed vigour. She is fourth in the European Athletics rankings and will be determined to go even higher as the German capital co-hosts the first multi-sports European Championships with Glasgow.
Her teammate Khaladovich will be defending her javelin title in Berlin after her glory in Amsterdam. Her victory in Nancy last night with 61.79m to defeat former world champion Katharina Molitor from Germany with 58.53m capped a fantastic month for the Belarusian who leads the European lists after extending her national record to 67.47m in Oslo three weeks ago.
France’s Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad will be chasing a fourth European crown in the 3000m steeplechase in Berlin and in a season in which he already leads the European lists with 8:16.97, he was a narrow second in 8:17.86 as Kenya’s Barnabas Kipyego won in 8:17.08.
Mekhissi-Benabadd’s teammate Djilali Bedrani has also put himself in the fray for the European Championships in Berlin, finishing fourth in 8:20.55 - a lifetime best by eight seconds.
Further European successes in Nancy came in the triple jump as Poland’s Karol Hoffmann won with 16.58m and in the 100m, as Ukraine’s Hrystyna Stuy triumphed in 11.22.
Czech Republic’s Filip Snejdr ran a personal best of 1:45.56 as he finished fifth in a quick 800m won by Kenya’s Alfred Kipketer in 1:44.28 while Germany’s Homiyu Tesfaye was third in the 1500m in 3:36.03 as Uganda’s Ronald Musagala won in 3:35.33.
And in the 100m hurdles, Finland’s Nooralotta Neziri ran 12.99 for a narrow second behind Olympic bronze medallist Kristi Castlin from the United States in 12.96.