Athletics News

10 top moments from Istanbul

10 top moments from Istanbul

From Jaz Sawyers and Nafi Thiam to Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Keely Hodgkinson, here are some of the best bits from the European Indoor Champs

Istanbul has made numerous failed attempts to stage the Olympics in the past 25 years. During its most recent bid – for the 2020 Games – the Ataköy Athletics Arena in the west of the city was gearing itself up to host fencing and taekwondo. But after losing out to Tokyo, Istanbul has had to put its Olympic ambitions on hold and last weekend the Ataköy venue was home to the European Athletics Indoor Championships instead.

The European Indoors is not the biggest event on the athletics calendar and is often viewed as a stepping stone to greater things for the athletes who win medals there. Yet as a standalone feast of track and field it is a popular and enjoyable meeting and the 2023 edition did not disappoint with plenty of exciting action.

Apart from pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis, most of the continent’s top stars took part too. Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Femke Bol and Karsten Warholm were among the competitors, for example.

While the actual athletics was brilliant, not everything outside of the six-lane track went perfectly. There were complaints about dirty toilets, lack of food options, mercenary cab drivers, intermittent wifi for the media, plus dangerously loose wires and cables on precipitously steep rows of seating.

Whereas the arena had rusty remnants of its bids to stage the greatest show on earth with Olympic rings dotted around the venue, there was also an unsightly concrete lake, or ‘rubble reservoir’, just metres from the athletes’ and VIP entrances. Stray cats were also able to strut quite easily into the stadium, mingling with athletes and spectators.

The spectator seats were nowhere near full either although in Istanbul’s defence the organisers deliberately kept the pre-event publicity low-key as a mark of respect to the victims of the previous month’s earthquake elsewhere in the country. This national disaster undoubtedly contributed to some of the organisational issues too.

The athletics, however, was excellent and here’s my pick of the best moments.

Sawyers leads by example

The feel-good moment of the weekend as Jazmin Sawyers nailed two major goals in one jump – the first seven-metre leap of her life and victory in an international senior championship.

Record-breaking Thiam

The performance of the championships as Nafi Thiam set a world pentathlon record of 5055 as Adrianna Sułek…

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