Miltiadis Tentoglou celebrated his 24th birthday today but the Greek jumper is already only one title away from completing the major set after leaping to long jump gold at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
European athletes swept four of the five titles on the first evening session which was capped by an incredulous and disbelieving Mujinga Kambundji from Switzerland scorching to 60m gold in 6.96.
In the long jump, Tentoglou’s first round attempt looked similarly poised to make an impact on the world all-time list but it was ruled a foul by the narrowest of margins, much to the usually cool-headed Greek’s displeasure.
But having regained his composure, Tentoglou adjusted his run-up for his second attempt and the Greek sailed into gold medal position, duly smashing all sorts of records with his mark of 8.55m. Incidentally his disallowed first round mark was measured at the same distance.
Not only was it a world lead and a national indoor record, it was also the world’s longest jump since Sebastian Bayer jumped his memorable European record of 8.71m at the 2009 European Indoor Championships. Tentoglou also moved to sixth on the world all-time list, one place ahead of Robert Emmiyan.
The silver and bronze medal positions remained in a state of flux until the final round with Thobias Montler hauling himself into medal contention with a national indoor record of 8.38m to win silver behind Tentoglou…just as he did at the 2019 and 2021 European Indoor Championships.
“Some day I think it’s going to be possible to beat Tentoglou but always at the big championships he pulls out the best one. He is so mentally strong. He told me before the contest he was going to jump 8.30-plus, so he was really motivated,” said Montler.
After emerging on the senior stage with gold at the 2018 European Athletics Championships, Tentoglou is only missing the world outdoor title from his collection and the World Athletics Championships in Oregon this summer are already looming into focus ahead of his title defence at the European Athletics Championships in Munich.
“I will do all possible and even impossible things to get it this summer,” he said. “I have never been to the USA and I am very excited to visit this country and to jump at the World Championships in Oregon. I also hope to set the national outdoor record this year. It’s still 8.66m from Louis Tsatoumas.”
Vidts and Dongmo break into uncharted territory
Twelve months after winning silver behind Nafi Thiam at the European Athletics Indoor Championships, Noor Vidts emerged from the shadow of her more illustrious teammate with an accomplished all-round display in the pentathlon which she described as “almost perfect”.
Vidts also relieved Thiam of her national record, tallying a world leading score of 4929 points to become the second Belgian winner of this title after soon-to-be Olympic high jump champion Tia Hellebaut in Valencia 2008.
“The competition was really, really good, almost perfect. Only the shot put could have been a little bit better. Coming to these championships, I was not allowed to think about the result. I just wanted to think about what I needed to do in each event. I knew the victory is perhaps possible but I did not want to think about it,” she said.
After speeding to a lifetime best of 8.14 in the 60m hurdles, Vidts briefly ceded the lead to Poland’s Adrianna Sulek after the high jump – 1.89m to 1.83m – but Vidts regained the ascendency with the best mark of the day in the shot put with 14.03m.
Sulek kept up her title challenge, squealing with delight after producing an outright lifetime best of 6.43m in the long jump but Vidts responded in type and put herself in prime position with 6.60m – by far the best jump she’s ever produced indoors or outdoors.
With Sulek still not completely out of title contention heading into the last event, Vidts also ran her fastest ever time in the 800m with 2:08.81 which not only confirmed the gold medal but took her overall score up to 4929 points to break Thiam’s previous mark by 25 points.
Sulek set her third pentathlon lifetime best of the season and her score of 4851 points also significantly took her in excess of the Polish record which had stood to Urszula Wlodarczyk since 1998. United States’ Kendell Williams denied a all-European clean sweep by hanging on to bronze ahead of Brit Holly Mills – 4680 to 4673 points – while reigning world indoor and outdoor champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson pulled out just before the 800m.
In the women’s shot put final, Auriol Dongmo shattered through the 20 metre-barrier for the first time in her career in the most emphatic, inspired and timely manner.
Chase Ealey from the United States had just broached the 20 metre-line in the fifth round with a seemingly unsurpassable 20.21m before a motivated Dongmo took to the circle with the very next throw, launching the four kilogram out to 20.43m – some 53 centimetres in excess of her previous national record.
“Tonight I felt calm and was really confident. I have no words to describe this feeling to become the world champion, to be back on the top of the world again,” said Dongmo, who also won the European indoor title last March.
The European medal haul began in the morning session courtesy of Olympic champion Pedro Pichardo from Portugal in the triple jump.
Pichardo came away with a medal of a slightly lighter hue this time around with his national indoor record of 17.46m yielding silver behind his former Cuban teammate Lazaro Martinez – a former two-time world U20 champion – who sprung to senior stardom with a world lead of 17.64m in the first round.
Pichardo’s title challenge came to grief after the second round due to a minor injury. With a view to the outdoor season, Pichardo opted to forego his last two jumps as a precaution.
“In the first few jumps, it felt a little uncomfortable, and by the time we reached the third and fourth attempt, that’s when the pain became more evident. I talked to my coach, who is also my dad, and he advised me to be patient and see what happens,” he said.
Full results here.