The big meet of the weekend was the European Indoor Champs, and the star of the Paris show was home boy Teddy Tamgho (FRA) who improved his own WR by twice leaping 58’ 9.5” to demolish the competition. This was the second time this year that Tamgho raised the WR having done so in Aubiere (58’ 9.25”) last month. His gold medal victory was the highlight of an indoor season that saw him leap over 58’ 9.25” THREE times. More importantly he showed tremendous consistency AND the ability to compete well and jump long under pressure – something that seemed to be missing among his long leaps of last year. Based on current form he could well jump over 59 feet outdoors AND win gold in Daegu – and dare I say we could see him approach the magical 60 foot barrier.
Another who could be challenging barriers outdoors is fellow Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie who won pole vault gold at 19’ 9.25”. Not quite a world record but it was an indoor PR and national record. Like Tamgho, Lavillenie has been both dominant and consistent this indoor season and appears to be a potential thereat to the 20 foot barrier outdoors.
And in keeping with the theme of spectacular field event performances at the Euro Indoor Champs, Russian high jumper Ivan Ukhov soared 7’ 9.75 – the third time this season that he has cleared that mark. He too has been very consistent and dominant this indoor season and looks ready to jump in the 7’ 10” / 7’ 11” range this outdoor season.
The most interesting development of the meet, however, was the return to form of Portuguese sprinter Francis Obikwelu. The 32 year old sprinter won the 60 meter title in a PR 5.53. An improvement on his previous 6.54 best set in 2005 and better than the 6.56 he ran in 2004 – the year he set his 100 PR of 9.86 while taking silver at the Athens Olympics. Among the scalps Obikwelu took in Paris were those of Britain's Dwain Chambers and Frances Christophe Lemaitre – last year’s European sprint find.
If Obikwelu is once again serious about joining the sprint wars in earnest he could be a fact in shaping the outcome of the Daegu final! A prodigy in his youth, a 19 year old Obikwelu won World Champs bronze in the 200 in 1999 – after running 19.84 in his semifinal! He last ran sub 10 in ‘06 (9.99) but barely ran under 6.70 (6.68) that season. His development will be one to watch. Similarly heading outdoors the European jumpers and vaulters should be at the top of everyone’s watch lists.
Full results of the European Indoor Championships can be found here. Next weekend we will have the final “big” meet of the indoor season – the NCAA championships. I will have my predictions up as soon as the final start lists are announced.