There was no shortage of drama and excitement on the track at the Berlin 2018 European Championships as records fell, new stars emerged and experience also paid off.
The Netherlands’ Marlene van Gansewinkel and Poland’s Barbara Niewiedzial both set new world records.
For van Gansewinkel, her world record and subsequent gold medal in the women’s 100m T64 marked her first major title, while experienced athlete Niewiedzial reclaimed the 800m T20 world record before winning the 1,500m T20 two days later – her third consecutive European title over the distance and twelfth major gold medal in all.
Frenchman Pierre Fairbank topped the individual medals table, winning the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m T53.
Finland’s sprint specialist Leo Pekka Tahti came close to four individual golds too, topping the podium in the 100m, 200m and 400m T54, with silver in the 800m – much to his own surprise.
“It’s awesome, I won the race and I beat the legend Kenny van Weeghel for the first time in my career at this distance, so I’m really happy,” said Pekka Tahti after his 400m victory.
Perhaps less surprising was Marcel Hug’s domination of the men’s T54 distance events.
The 32-year-old finished first in the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m T54 while teammate Manuela Schaer won both her events – the women’s 1,500m and 5,000m T54.
As for the sprinters, there were golden doubles galore.
Germans Johannes Floors (T62), Felix Streng (T64) and Nicole Nicoleitzik (T36) kept the home crowds happy with two individual sprint golds each, while Poles Michal Derus (T47), Michal Kotkowski (T37) and Krzysztof Ciuksza (T36) helped their country to the top of the medals table with two golds apiece.
Ukrainians Leilia Adzhametova (T13), Ihor Tsvietov (T35) and Oksana Boturchuk (T12) all notched up double sprint golds, as did former French world champion Mandy Francois-Elie (T37), Turkey’s Hamide Kurt (T53) and Dutchwoman van Gansewinkel.
Belgium’s Peter Genyn (T51) overcame injury – he suffered a dislocated hip just weeks before the start of competition and had to undergo surgery – to also claim two golds on the track.
Ireland’s Jason Smyth maintained his phenomenal unbeaten run, taking his major championship gold medal tally to nineteen with wins in the 100m and 200m T13.
British pair Sophie Hahn and Thomas Young dominated the T38 sprints with four golds between them – a terrific start to 18-year-old Young’s international career; fellow Briton Kare Adenegan also claimed her first major championship title with victory in the women’s 100m T34, ending teammate Hannah Cockroft’s lengthy reign at the top of the podium.
Cockroft made sure she finished first in the 800m T34 however – one of a number of impressive middle-distance performances in the German capital.
Frenchman Redouane Hennouni clearly had only one outcome in mind as he took to the front early on in the men’s 1,500m T38 then held on strongly to claim his first European title on his major championship debut.
“Now I want to finish first on the podium at the Paralympic Games, but before that there is the World Championships - and you can count on me,” said Hennouni, whose teammate Timothee Adolphe (100m T11 gold) also helped France to finish fourth in the medals table – their highest ever finish at a European Championships.
Portugal’s Sandro Correia-Baessa, 19, claimed double gold in Berlin, winning the 400m and 800m T20 at his first major championships against experienced Para athletes such as Poland’s Daniel Pek and Briton Steve Morris.
Poland’s Aleksander Kossakowski claimed the first gold of the championships out on the track, the men’s 1,500m T11, setting a precedent for his teammates who went on to win 61 medals in all – including 26 gold, 15 silver and 20 bronze.
RaceRunning - in which Para athletes with high support needs use a frame with wheels - made its debut at a World Para Athletics major championship, with men’s and women’s 100m RR1 and RR3 races. Denmark’s Nikolaj Christensen and Great Britain’s Hannah Dines were among the winners.