Berlin: Defending European champion Churandy Martina advanced smoothly into the semi-finals of the men’s 100m on the opening day of action at the European Athletics Championships yesterday.
The veteran Dutch sprinter, 34, cruelly stripped of an Olympic 200m silver medal in 2008 after straying outside his lane, clocked 10.24 seconds, the fastest of the five heats in blistering heat at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, to finish ahead of Slovakia’s Jan Volko (10.32).
Next up will be today’s semis, of which there are three, with the final to be competed later that night.
Heading the favourites’ list are British pair Zharnel Hughes and Reece Prescod, Italy’s Filippo Tortu and France’s Jimmy Vicaut.
Heats for the women’s 100m, the semi-finals and final of which will also be raced today, saw long-time Norwegian hope Ezinne Okparaebo, twice a European medallist indoors over 60m, take the first of three, clocking 11.44sec.
Poland’s Ewa Swoboda, just 20, continued her transition from a highly successful junior athlete to senior level, coming in second in 11.33sec behind second heat winner Lisa Marie Kwayie of Germany (11.30). The third and final heat went the way of Switzerland’s Ajla Del Ponte.
Standing in their way will be Briton Dina Asher-Smith, the fastest European over 100m this season with 10.92sec and who is gunning for a treble by also competing in the 200m and 4x100m relay.
In a session of qualifying, another defending champion in the monstrous size of Pawel Fajdek sailed through to the final of the hammer throw with a dominant 77.86-metre effort.
Joining him in today’s final will be two others who hit the qualifying mark: Hungary’s Bence Halasz (76.81m), and Polish teammate Wojciech Nowicki (76.03m), who has won two world bronzes and one Olympic bronze.
Germany’s David Storl, the multi-medalled shot putter is seeking a fourth successive European title.
Apart from finals in the two 100m races, and the men’s hammer throw, today also sees medals up for grabs in the men’s shot put and 10,000m.