Duplantis and Warholm lead cast at European Athletics Championships

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Munich (Germany) (AFP) – World and Olympic pole vault champion Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis will headline the European Athletics Championships which will also feature Norway’s top pair of Karsten Warholm and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, and Italian Olympic champion in the 100m Marcell Jacobs.

Athletics will headline the European Championships in Munich, the biggest sporting event in Germany since the 1972 Summer Olympics in the same Bavarian city.

Athletics attracted a record number of 1,540 participants from 47 nations in 50 medal-winning events, alongside eight other Olympic sports during the second edition of the European Championships: beach volleyball, canoe sprint, cycling, gymnastics, rowing, climbing sports, table tennis and triathlon.

A total of 31 defending Berlin 2018 individual champions are taking part in the 25th edition of the European Athletics Championships, including Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic, who is aiming for a record-breaking sixth consecutive discus throw title.

The 10 European gold medalists from the World Championships in Athletics in Oregon are set to compete on the continental stage again after the 2020 edition in Paris was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

All eyes, however, will be on Duplantis, who just broke his own world record in Eugene as he clinched world gold with 6.21 meters.

The championship record of 6.05m – set by Soviet and Ukrainian great Sergey Bubka – looks in jeopardy if the US-born Swede gets his way.

Norway’s Ingebrigtsen was one of the stars of Berlin 2018, winning double gold in a memorable 1,500-5,000m double.

World silver medalist behind Jake Wightman in the 1500m in Eugene, Ingebrigtsen will attempt the same double in Munich, the Briton easily advancing to the 800m.

Calm preparations

Ingebrigtsen’s teammate Warholm had one of the greatest Olympic track performances of all time when he broke the 29-year-old’s world record to win the 400m hurdles at the Tokyo Games last year in a time of 45.94 seconds.

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But the 26-year-old suffered a hamstring injury in June and despite making the world final in Oregon he could only finish seventh.

If he is fully fit, Warholm will be the one to beat at the Olympic Stadium.

“I’m going to run everything I have in a European Championship final and take the best time possible,” Warholm told Norwegian tabloid VG.

“I have been able to train without worries since the worlds,” he added. “Whereas before the world championships it was a race against time to be ready – very stressful – now I have been able to prepare more calmly and it’s a very good feeling.”

Italy’s Jacobs was another disappointment in the United States, retiring before the men’s 100m semifinals with a thigh injury.

His coach Paolo Camossi was confident that Jacobs would be able to compete in the 100 and 4x100m relays in Munich.

“He’s running free. He’s having fun. The practices are promising,” he said. “If we are here in Munich, it’s because he’s fine and he can compete.

“Marcell is the Olympic gold medalist and he is here to win, but this is not a race to be taken lightly.”

Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the reigning two-time European sprint champion who skipped the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, is also fearful of injury.

Defending her world title, she had to settle for a bronze medal in the 200m in Eugene and can expect stiff competition from Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji and fellow Briton Daryll Neita.

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Britain’s hopefuls look safer in the women’s middle-distance events, as Keely Hodgkinson and Laura Muir are favorites and in good form in the 800m and 1,500m respectively.

Eilish McColgan also doubles in the 5,000-10,000m after winning silver and gold in Birmingham.

In the multidisciplinary events, the two world champions are in action: Belgian Nafi Thiam takes part in the heptathlon and Frenchman Kevin Mayer in the decathlon.

Mayer warned that his body had not fully recovered from Eugene.

“If there’s any pain and risk that could cost me in the future, it won’t be worth it,” Mayer said in a nod to the 2024 Summer Olympics which will be held in Paris.

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