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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 top Norwegian duo Karsten Warholm and Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Italian Olympic 100m champion 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.
The athletics has drawn a record 1,540 participants from 47 countries in 50 medal events, while standing shoulder to shoulder with eight other Olympic sports in the second edition of the European Championships: beach volleyball, canoe sprint, cycling, gymnastics, rowing, sport climbing, table tennis and triathlon.
A total of 31 reigning individual champions from Berlin 2018 will compete in the 25th edition of the Euro Athletics Championships, including Croatian Sandra Perkovic, who is aiming for a record-breaking sixth consecutive title in the discus throw.
All 10 European gold medalists from the Oregon World Championships in Athletics will once again compete on the continental podium after the 2020 edition in Paris was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, all eyes will be on Duplantis, fresh from breaking his own world record in Eugene when he took world gold with 6.21 metres.
The championship record of 6.05m – set by Soviet and Ukrainian great Sergey Bubka – looks in danger if the US-born Swede sets his sights on it.
Norway’s Ingebrigtsen was one of the stars of Berlin 2018, winning double gold in a memorable 1500-5,000m double.
Ingebrigtsen, a world silver medalist behind Jake Wightman in the 1500m in Eugene, will attempt the same double in Munich, with the Briton handily stepping back to the 800m.
Ingebrigtsen’s teammate Warholm had one of the greatest Olympic track performances of all time when he broke the 29-year-old world record by winning the 400m hurdles at last year’s Tokyo Games in a time of 45.94sec.
But the 26-year-old suffered a hamstring injury in June and although he made it to the world finals in Oregon, he could only finish seventh.
When fully fit, Warholm will be the man to beat at the Olympic Stadium.
“I’m going to do everything I have in a European Championship final and I’ll take the best time I can,” Warholm told Norwegian tabloid VG.
“I can train without worry since the worlds,” he added. “While before the World Championships it was a race against time to get ready – very stressful – I could now prepare more calmly and that is a very good feeling.”
The Italian Jacobs again disappointed in the United States and withdrew from the semi-final of the men’s 100 meters with a thigh injury.
His coach Paolo Camossi was convinced that Jacobs could participate in both the 100m and 4x100m relay in Munich.
“He runs free. He’s having fun. The training sessions are promising,” he said. “When we’re here in Munich it’s because he’s okay and can compete.
“Marcell is the Olympic gold medalist and he is here to win, but it is not a race to be taken lightly.”
There are also injuries concerns about Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the reigning two-time European sprint champion who skipped the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
In defending her world title, she had to be happy with a 200m bronze in Eugene and can expect strong competition from Swiss Mujinga Kambundji and compatriot Daryll Neita.
Britain’s hopes seem more confident in the women’s medium distances, as Keely Hodgkinson and Laura Muir are the favourites, and in form, in the 800 and 1500 meters respectively.
Eilish McColgan also doubles in the 5,000-10,000m after winning silver and gold in Birmingham.
Both world champions compete in the multidisciplinary events: the Belgian Nafi Thiam in the heptathlon and the Frenchman Kevin Mayer in the decathlon.
Mayer has warned that his body had not fully recovered from Eugene.
“If there’s the slightest pain and risk that could cost me in the future, it won’t be worth it,” Mayer said with a nod to the 2024 Summer Olympics to be held in Paris.
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