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ATHLETICS EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS - DAY THREE

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Third day of competition, 8.7.2016

The third day of competition offers athletics fan a number of fantastic finals. In a lot of events there is a clear favourite for the gold, but in some events like the men's 200m and 400m there are many candidates who could triumph. We look forward to the men's 3000m steeplechase as it will be interesting to see what the disqualified winner of two years ago, Mahiediene Mekhissi-Benabbad comes up with this time...

Naturally it will also be interesting to see how clinically massive favourites like Sandra Perkovic in the women's discus, Anita Wlodarczyk in the women's hammer and Renaud Lavillenie in the men's pole vault perform in their finals. If one - or many of the trio fail to get gold the press can start printing front pages with "massive surprise" written on them.

17:10 WOMEN'S HAMMER THROW FINAL

There should be no doubt about who's going to win the women's hammer throw. Anita Wlodarczyk only last season broke Betty Heidler's world record with a throw of 81,08 metres and she's been on a level of her own all season. Her season's best (also the world's best this season) is 79,61. The best European behind her is Germany's Heidler with a throw of 75,46, so it's clear to see just how much difference there is between Wlodarczyk and the chasing pack.

Wlodarczyk is the double-reigning European Champion and the reigning World Champion, so it would be a massive surprise if her streak was to end now. Heidler's silver medal is also fairly secure if she gets anywhere near her normal level of performance, but the fight for the bronze medal and other places is rather tight.

Moldova's Zalina Marghieva got her hammer as far as 74,21 in February, breaking Moldova's national record in the process. After that she's been throwing over 72 metres consistently, so her average performance has been rather good. Azerbaijan's Hanna Skydan has also broken her country's national record this season - twice in fact. Fourth in this season's standings, Skydan's throw of 73,87 came at the start of June, so her form looks to be good moving into major competition territory in the calendar.

The surprises in this season's European rankings are Wlodarczyk's fellow Pole Joanna Fiodorow (72,97), who has been getting closer to 73 metres every time she competes. Last year's World Championship bronze medal winner, Alexandra Tavernier of France (72,16) and the silver medal winner of the last European Championships, Slovakia's Martina Hrasnova (72,34) will also have their say in the competition for the podium places. However, the two mentioned last haven't been very consistent, despite their impressive season's bests.

Betting tips:

All of the leading ladies survived the qualification process with ease, so the final promises to be an epic battle for the medals. The winner should be clear, but the fight for the other places on the podium will be tight. Heidler's experience gives her the edge for silver, but Skyda's and Fiodorow's odds are far more lucrative!

** TOP3: Joanna Fiodorow 9/2 Unibet

Ranking:

A: Favourite

Anita Wlodarczyk

B: Challengers

Betty Heidler, Joanna Fidorow

C: Surprise packages

Zalina Marghieva, Hanna Skydan, Alexandra Tavernier, Martina Hrasnova, Katerina Safrankova

 

18:10 MEN'S POLE VAULT FINAL

The men's pole vault final promises to be a one-person show, just like the women's hammer throw. World record holder Renaud Lavillenie has been on a level of his own all season, and he leads this season's standings with a jump if 595.

With three consecutive European Championship titles on his belt, Lavillenie's superiority can be seen from the fact that his closest competitor, Jan Kudlicka of the Czech Republic has jumped 583, which is also his country's record. The only other man to clear 580 besides Lavillenie and Kudlicka this season's is Lavillenie's fellow Frenchman, Kévin Menaldo (580).

Fourth in this season's European standings, Germany's Tobias Scherbarth (575), has jumped over 570 in three of his four competitions in June. That result would have been enough for silver two years ago, so it might be enough for a medal this year as well. Stanley Joseph of France is also fourth in this season's standings with 575, but he hasn't been as consistent as Scherbarth.

Out of the rest the world champion of 2011, Pawel Wojciechowski (571) can also be highlighted. The silver medalist of two years ago isn't at the same level as he's been, but he can't be counted out just yet. The same applies to Greece's experiences Konstadínos Filippídis (570).

One interesting fellow is also Germany's Raphael Holdzeppe, who was world champion in 2013 and won silver in 2015. Last year he impressively cleared 594, but his season's best is a lowly 540. However, indoors he's jumped 584 with several jumps over 570, so if the multiple medal winner can magically reverse his outdoor form, he could well be a dark horse on Friday.

Betting tips:

Jan Kudlicka of the Czech Republic seems underrated by the bookies, and it's the complete opposite with Filippidis of Greece. Stanley Joseph's consistency is worrying, so betting against him is wise.

** H2H: Kevin Menaldo - Stanley Joseph 13/20 Unibet

** H2H: Jan Kudlicka - Konstadinos Filippidis 13/10 Unibet

Ranking:

A: Favourite

Renaud Lavillenie

B: Challengers

Jan Kudlicka, Tobias Scherbath, Pawel Wojciechowski

C: Surprise packages

Konstadínos Filippídis, Stanley Joseph, Raphael Holdzeppe, Piotr Lisek, Robert Sobera

 

18:20 WOMEN'S LONG JUMP FINAL

Only three women have jumped over 7 metres this season, and only one of those women is from Europe. That woman is current world number one, Germany's Sosthene Taroum Moguenara with a jump of 7,16 metres, but sadly she won't be in Amsterdam due to an injury. This means that the favourite in this year's European Championships is Serbia's Ivana Spanovic, whose jump of 6,95 metres is enough for second place in the European standings. Spanovic has made the podium in three consecutive major championships (two World championship bronze medals and one European championship silver medal), and the streak can be expected to continue in Amsterdam. 

Ukraine's Maryna Bekh is also a strong challenger for the title, as her jump of 6,93m with a wind of +2,0m/s is enough for third place in the European standings for this season. The 20-year old young lady managed that result in an impressive performance in the middle of June, with three of her jumps clearing 6,80m in that competition. However, her normal level of performance besides that competition has been about 20 centimetres worse, so it will be interesting to see how she fares in Amsterdam.

Germany's 22-year old Alexandra Wester has managed 7,00m once this season, but that was a wind-assisted result (+3,3 m/s), so it doesn't count as an official result. In legal conditions she's managed 6,79m - although indoors earlier this year she did jump 6,95. This woman has a lot of potential.

Besides Bekh and Wester another strong challenge could come from Team GB's Lorraine Ugen. The 24-year old's results this season are impressive: 6,93 indoors, a jump of 6,82 with wind assistance and 6,76 in legal conditions. Spain's Juliet Itoya has jumped 6,79, and although that seemed to be just a purple patch she can't be counted out completely.

Another Brit, Jazmin Sawyers (6,75) and Slovakia's experienced Jana Veldakova (6,75) have jumped their season's bests in late June, which points towards both finding form for the Championships. Veldakova's usual level of performance is lower out of the duo.

Turkey's experienced Karin Melis Mey is fourth in this year's European standings with a jump of 6,85, but that resullt came in February and her form has been much worse since. The same applies to Haido Alexoul of Greece, who jumped 6,78 in March.

Betting tips:

The differences in qualitiy among the leading ladies of Europe aren't large, so the conditions may take centre stage yet again. In the men's corresponding event it was plain to see how much trouble a quirky wind can cause long jumpers. Spanovic has a lot of experience that will help her in the final, but in terms of the odds Maryna Bekh's odds are unmissable!

*** H2H: Maryna Bekh - Alexandra Wester 19/20 Unibet

** TOP3: Maryna Bekh 5/4 Unibet

Ranking:

A: Favourites

Ivana Spanovic, Maryna Bekh

B: Challengers

Alexandra Wester, Juliet Itoya, Lorraine Ugen, Karin Melis Mey

C: Surprise packages

Jazmin Sawyers, Jana Veldakova, Haido Alexouli

 

18:40 MEN'S 400M HURDLES FINAL

There are two men in Europe who have run the longer hurdling distance under 49 seconds this season. Turkey's Yasmani Copello Escobar is Europe's number one with the 48.78 he ran in June. The Turkish man defeated the reigning European Champion's, Switzerland's Kariem Hussein's time of 48.98 by exactly two tenths of a second.

There are plenty of challengers behind the top two. With the absence of Poland's Patryk Dobek the main challenger looks to be the silver medal winner of two years ago, Estonia's Rasmus Mägi (49.04). Spain's Sérgio Fernández ran two hundredths of a second faster than Mägi at the end of June, but in general his level of performance hasn't been as good. Another challenger is Team GB's Jack Green, who ran 49.05 seconds in June.

The 2012 European Champion Rhys Williams has a lot of merit, but the experienced athlete hasn't quite been at his best level this season. However, his season's best of 49.22 is still seventh best out of his competitors, so he can't be completely ruled out. The same can be said of Mamadou Kasse Hanne, who obtained French citizenship two years ago and has ran 49.15 this season.

Another interesting name is Norway's young star Karsten Warholm. At only 20 years of age, Warholm is a real multitalent, as he'll be appearing for Norway in both the 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay. He's also improved his personal record from 51.09 to 49.62 in under a year! If Warholm can continue improving in Amsterdam, he could be surprisingly high in the results, as his current record would have been enough for fifth place two years ago.

Betting tips:

The medalists seem clear before the race, as Yasmani Copello Escobar, Kariem Hussein and Karsten Warholm are in a league of their own. Betting on the podium places with a combination of these three names is the best idea for betting in this event, but the odds don't really seem worth it. We're leaving this one alone.

Ranking:

A: Favourites

Yasmani Copello Escobar, Kariem Hussein

B: Challengers

Rasmus Mägi, Sérgio Fernández, Jack Green

C: Surprise packages

Rhys Williams, Mamadou Kasse Hanne, Karsten Warholm

 

18:50 MEN'S 400M FINAL

Europe's TOP10 for the men's 400m is pleasant reading for Brits, as it features three Team GB athletes. It's a real shame that none of them are running in Amsterdam in this event. Matthew Hudson-Smith (44.88) has been superior this season, as he's the only man in Europe to run under 45 seconds. In addition to him the two other Brits in the top ten are eighth-placed Delano Williams (45.50) and ninth-placed Rabah Yousif (45.52). All three will be part of Team GB's 4x400m relay team, but they won't be running in this race.

This means that the biggest contenders to win are Italy's Matteo Galvan (45.12) and Belgium's Kevin Borlée. Kevin of the Borlée twins won gold in the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona and was third in the World Championships of 2011. However, after those medals he's only been on the podium after relays. Kevin didn't even make the final of the last European Championships, but this season's standings show that he's now capable of going for gold again. It will be an intense duel between him and Galvan.

There are plenty of other potential winners from outside the top two. Slovenia's only 20-year old Luka Janezic has already broken Slovenia's national record this season with a run of 45.22, which gives him third place in this season's European standings. The bronze medal of winner of two years ago, Israel's Donald Blair-Sanford (45.26) and The Czech Republic's Pavel Maslák shouldn't be counted out either.

The reigning European Champion, Team Gb's Martyn Rooney will also be running in Amsterdam, but he's been unconvincing this season. In his seven races this summer he's only managed to break the 46 second barrier twice and his season's best of 45.78 is only 16th best in Europe. The other Borlée twin, Jonathan, has been even worse this season, with his best being 45.87.

There have been some epic battles in the last couple of major 400m finals, and everything is pointing towards another fantastic, tightly-fought race in Amsterdam.

Betting tips:

Martyn Rooney seems to have found his speed again, as he coasted to the final with the fastest time. His closest challenger is definitely Kevin Borlee, who has also performed convincingly in Amsterdam. The battle for bronze will most likely be between Matteo Galvan and Pavel Maslak.

** Winner: Martyn Rooney 3/4 Unibet

Ranking:

A: Favourites

Kevin Borlée, Matteo Galvan

B: Challengers

Luka Janezic, Donald Blair-Sanford, Pavel Maslak

C: Surprise packages

Martyn Rooney, Jonathan Borlée, Rafal Omelko, Yavuz Can, Samuel García

 

19:15 WOMEN'S DISCUS FINAL

Olympic gold in 2012, World Champion in 2013, World Championship silver in 2015 and three consecutive European Championship titles. That's the basis Croatia's Sandra Perkovic is looking to build on. Perkovic's season's best of 70,88 on is the number one result in the world with over two metres separating her from second place. The Croatian has been crushingly dominant this season.

Perkovic isn't just an athlete who gets good results occasionally, she's also incredibly consistent. The Croatian has competed five times this season, and not even once has she had a final result of under 67 metres. Second in the European standings, Germany's Julia Fischer threw 68,49 in March, but otherwise her results have varied between 61,91-66,59. The woman in third place, Nadine Müller (65,79) has seen her results fluctuate between 63,09-65,79. The differences in quality are therefore vast.

Although neither of the two women mentioned might not be able to challenge Perkovic, the battle for the rest of the medals will be tense. Besides the German duo of Fischer-Müller the women with the best shot for a place on the podium are Shanice Craft (64,62) and Mélina Robert-Michon (64,96). Germany's Anna Rüh (64,08) is also capable of reaching the podium on a good day.

Team GB's Jade Lally threw her record of 65,10 in February, but after that she's been struggling for form.

Betting tips:

There were no surprises in the qualification. Fischer's impressive form there showed that Perkovic might not be getting the gold for free. A surprising name could also be Nataliya Semenova, who out of the blue almost broke her record in June. The 34-year old Ukrainian looks to be getting better with age. Could she light up Amsterdam?

** H2H: Julia Fischer - Nadine Müller 11/20 Unibet

Ranking:

A: Favourite

Sandra Perkovic

B: Challengers

Julia Fischer, Nadine Müller, Mélina Robert-Michon, Shanice Craft

C: Surprise packages

Anna Rüh, Jade Lally, Irina Rodrigues, Nataliya Semenova

 

19:25 WOMEN'S 400M FINAL

European's haven't been very strong in the women's 400 metres this season, as only one European runner makes it into the 20 best results of the season. She is Floria Guei from France, who ran 50.84 at the start of June, and she's also the only European to get under 51 seconds this season.

However, she does have a number of tough challengers for the gold. The reigning European champion, Italy's Libania Grenot is fourth in Europe this season with her time of 51.33. The silver medalist from two years ago, Ukraine's Olha Zemlyak (51.60) will also be competing in Amsterdam. Portugal's 22-year old Cátia Azevedo broke her country's national record earlier this season with a time of 51.62.

Team GB's leading lights in this event, Emily Diamond and Seren Bundy-Davies won't be competing in Amsterdam in this event, so the Brits' biggest hope for a medal is Anyika Onuora (51.55). Christine Ohuruogu, Olympic winner in 2008 will also be competing, but her best this season is a modest 52 seconds flat.

Betting tips:

How many times have we seen this? Christine Ohuruogu is in awful form all across the season, but when the major championships come around she seems to always be at her best. Her focus will be on the Olympics, but Amsterdam is a good check point for her. As the general level in Europe for the women's 400m isn't that good, Ohuruogu may be close to gold yet again.

Ranking:

A: Favourites

Floria Guei, Libania Grenot

B: Challengers

Olha Zemlyak, Cátia Azevedo, Anyika Onuora

C: Surprise packages

Christine Ohuruogu, Justyna Swiety, Olha Bibik, Yuliaya, Olishevska

 

19:35 MEN'S 200M FINAL

Team GB's Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake took the Athletics world by storm with his run of 19.95 in May. That remains the only time a European has ran under 20 seconds this season, and is also enough for third place in the world rankings this season. It's also the second fastest time ever by a British athlete! That achievement is made all the more impressive by the fact that Mitchell-Blake was relatively unknown before this season. Now he's the favourite for gold in the European Championships!

That run wasn't just a purple patch for him either, as the youngster has also ran 19.96 just two weeks later - admittedly with a wind assistance of +3,6 m/s. At the start of June he ran 20.17 without any wind, so this man is definitely worth keeping an eye out for.

However, it's not going to be all plain sailing for the first-timer in a major competition. That will be made sure by the European Champion of 2012, Churandy Martina, who will be spurred on by the home crowd. Martina's season's best is 20.11, and that run is even more impressive because he had to battle a wind of -1,7 m/s to do it.

Christophe Lemaitre shouldn't be forgotten either, as the multiple medal winner has clocked 20.27 this season, along with Germany's Aleixo Platini Menga.

The other lanes will be occupied by tough athletes as well. Italy's Eseosa Desaluta (20.31) and Likourgos-Stefanos Tsakona (20.36) of Greece could spring a surprise. The same applies to Team GB's Danny Talbot, who ran his season's best of 20.39 with a headwind of 1,8 m/s. The only Europeans to appear in last season's world championship final, Turkey's Ramil Guliyev (20.42) and Team GB's Zharnel Hughes (20.70) will also be appearing in Amsterdam, but their season's bests aren't even close to being good enough to challenge for a place on the podium.

Sadly, the reigning European Champion, Team GB's Adam Gemili won't be defending his title in Amsterdam, so a new champion will be crowned.

Betting tips:

Churandy Martina lit up the home crowd and won the men's 100 metres yesterday. Now the experienced athlete has a chance to win a second gold medal in his home championships. Behind the duo of Mitchell-Blake and Martina the most likely man to get bronze is Ramil Guliyev. After him it's anyone's game.

* Winner: Churandy Martina 3/4 Unibet

Ranking:

A: Favourites

Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Churandy Martina

B: Challengers

Christophe Lemaitre, Aleixo Platini Menga

C: Surprise packages

Eseosa Desalu, Likourgos-Stefanos Tsakonas, Ramil Guliyev, Danny Talbot, Zharnel Hughes

 

20:45 WOMEN'S 100M FINAL

The Amsterdam crowd might have a lot to cheer for on Thursday. The host nation's Dafne Schippers has been in a league of her own in the 100 metres in Europe this season, and she's also the only European to run under 11 seconds. The reigning European Champion of both the 100m and 200m has gone under 11 twice this season, albeit that the second run of 10.94 came in a +2.7 m/s wind assisted race. Schippers has decided to focus solely on the 100 metres in these championships, so the Dutch sprinter will surely have fresh legs come Thursday.

Schippers' time of 10.83 is enough for fifth place in this season's world rankings. Second in the European rankings, Team GB's Desiree Henry is her closest challenger for the gold, but her record of 11.06 isn't even close to Schippers' best time. A tenth of a second is a long time over 100 metres, especially between two of the favourites of a race.

The European Champion of 2012, Ivet Lalova-Collio is another woman capable of challenging Schippers, and her PB is in fact better than her Dutch counterparts (Lalova: 10.77m Schippers: 10.81). However, Lalova-Collio's season's best is "only" 11.11, which is enough for equal fourth place in this season's European rankings.

Ukraine's Nataliya Pohrebnyak has also run 11.11 this season, with her time being even more impressive because she had to battle a 2.2 m/s headwind. The Ukrainian might have a claim for a podium place if she can muster a similar performance in Amsterdam.

Betting tips:

Schippers is so clear of a favourite in front of the home crowd, that she probably needs to not finish if she's not to win. Henry and Lalova will battle for silver.

Ranking:

A: Favourite

Dafne Schippers

B: Challengers

Desiree Henry, Ivet Lalova-Collio, Nataliya Pohrebnyak

C: Surprise packages

Mujinga Kambundji, Asha Philip, Stella Akakpo, Tatjana, Pinto, Floriane, Gnafoua, Olesya Povh

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