Roma 2024, Day 2 , Nafi Thiam wins Hep, Ditaji Kambundji takes 100m hurdles, and Crazy long jumper defends his 100m title! by Larry Eder

photos by European Athletics via Getty Images

Day 2 in Rome was spectacular!

In the 20k Men’s Race walk, Perseus Karlstrom, SWE, a giant of a man, takes the 20k RW gold in 1:19.13. Paul McGrath, representing Spain, takes the silver in 1:19.31, with Francesco Fortunato, ITA, giving Italy another medal in 1:19.54. This was Karlstroms’ first gold medal in the Europeans.

The Men’s long jump has an incredible cast of characters in Europe. In the first round, Miltiadis Tentoglou, the Greek long jump god, opened at 8.42m, and Mattia Furlani, ITA, jumped 8.38m! An WU20R! Furlani had the crowd on fire. Simon Ehammer, Swiss decathlete and long jumper, long jumped here, went 8.38m. The Greek long jump deity was not done. Miltiadis went 8.42m, then 8.49m, 8.45m, then 8.65m, and again 8.65m! Tentoglou set a Championship record, but not the Greek one (8.66m!). Miltiadis told the media that his coach encouraged him to go for it, “just a bit more,” but Miltiadis was exhausted!

In the Men’s shot put, Leonardo Fabbri, ITA, has been shaking up the shot put world all season with 22.93m and 22.95m, and in Rome, they are no exception. In front of 20,000 loud Italian fans, Leonardo took the lead in attempt 2, 22.12m, and then, in attempt 5, went out to 22.42m, setting a CR, breaking the record of one Werner Gunthor (1986-22.22m). Filip Mihaljevic, CRO, a seasoned competitor, took silver in 21.10m, and Michat Haratyk, POL, took bronze in 20.94m.

In the women’s discus, Sandra Elkasevic took her seventh title with a throw of SB 67.04m. Don’t recognize the name? Well, do you remember Sandra Perkovic? Sandra is married now, and this is her seventh title in the discus! Jorinde Van Klinken, NED, won her second medal of #Roma2024, taking silver with her throw of SB 65.99m. Portugal’s Liliana Ca threw 64.53m for the bronze!

Nafissatou Thiam, World and Olympic champion, had not competed in the heptathlon in over a year. What would she do? Well, Nafi Thiam, BEL, set a championship record of 6848! France’s Auriana Lazraq-Khlass competed out of her mind for two days, scoring 6635 PB! Belgium took two medals in the hep, with Noor Vidts scoring a pb 6596! (Katerina Johnson-Thompson, GB, noting a niggle in event 3, withdrew from the competition, focusing on Paris).

The 100m hurdles is a tough event. Many have thought that the gold medalist would be from Puerto Rico, the US, or the Bahamas. Well, add France! Cyrena Samba-Mayela, FRA, just ran away from the field, running a CR of 12.31 and WL! Ditaji Kambundji, SUI, ran EU23R in 12.40! In bronze, Pia Skrzyszowska, POL, ran 12.42. Cind Sember, GB, took 4th in 12.56.

The 110m hurdles are so exciting, combining sprinting and hurdling. It is an energy management conundrum. Lorenzo Ndele Simonelli, ITA, has run well all season, and his EL 13.05, even hitting 2 hurdles, was brilliant. Enrique Llopis, ESP, ran a PB 13.16. In the bronze, Jason Joseph, SUI, ran bronze in 13.43! Simonelli kept the Italian medal machine going!

The 5,000 meters is 12.5 laps on the CONICA track that is the home of the 2024 European Champs. The time is not what matters in distance races, it is who wins gold, silver and bronze. The Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen knows this better than most, and Jakob kept his cool and used a last lap of 53.16 to take the gold, with his time of 13:20.11. In the silver position, George Mills, GB, moved up from the mile/1,500m and stayed out of trouble, battling the Norwegian until the very end, in 13:21.38. Dominic Lobalu, SUI, held on for the bronze in a gutty 13.21.61. Jakob Ingebrigtsen had run a 3 45 for the mile on May 25, 3:29 1,500m on May 30, and now, June 8, wins the 5,000 meters at the Europeans for the third time!

The final event of the night was the Men’s 100 meters. Would Marcell Jacobs, ITA, be able to defend his title from 2022 in Munich? He is the gold medalist from Tokyo 2021 in the 100m and has a target on his back.

The first 100m semi was a mess. Three callbacks, and when the race took off, Matteo Malluzo, ITA, had run the entire 100m in the second callback and did not finish the third attempted race.

Lamont Jacobs got out well in the final and battled with Romel Glave, GB, and Chituri Ali, IT. Jacobs took the gold in 10.02, suffering a little cramp mid-race, but said, “ I was here to win for my country,” and toughed it out. Chituri Ali, ITA, took silver in 10.05 and Romell Glave, GB, 10.06. Henrik Larsson, SWE was fourth in 10.16.

It was a fantastic second day, as Italy looks to surpass their medal haul of 12 from 1990 in 2024. The crowd was much better, although 20,000 does not look great in a stadium that seats 40,000 in a track setup.

European Athletics had a nightmare selling tickets, and from here in Wisconsin, not sure what happened, but outside of London, selling 60,000-80,000 seats for track champs is not probable.