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Fantini trumps 'granny' Wlodarczyk, Mayer halfway to securing Paris Olympic berth

<a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/italy-women/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Italy;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Italy</a>'s Sara Fantini competes in the European women's hammer throw final (Anne-Christine POUJOULAT)
Italy's Sara Fantini competes in the European women's hammer throw final (Anne-Christine POUJOULAT)

Sara Fantini notched another gold for Italy to ruin Anita Wlodarczyk's bid for a fifth European hammer throw title in Rome on Monday, while world record holder Kevin Mayer was half way to locking up a Paris Olympic berth on the opening day of the decathlon.

Wlodarczyk is a giant in field events: the 38-year-old Pole is a three-time Olympic champion, a four-time world gold medallist and since first striking European gold in Helsinki in 2012, had won three more continental crowns.

Her one blip was missing the 2022 Euros in Munich after being injured when she apprehended a thief trying to steal her car.

Wlodarczyk only won silver at the Stadio Olimpico after a humdinger of a competition.

Backed by raucous home support, Fantini eventually came away victorious, her best of 74.18m ensuring an upgrade from her silver in Munich as she won Italy's eighth gold in Rome.

Wlodarczyk's 72.92m just edged France's Rose Loga (72.68) on the podium.

"Sometimes, before the attempt, my coach shouts at me: 'Come on granny!'" joked Wlodarczyk.

"And a granny can maybe win an Olympic medal, too. We still have two months to prepare for Paris and I still have some reserve in my technique so it is nice to see that this was still not my maximum."

Fantini said she "still can't believe I duelled and beat Anita Wlodarczyk".

"She roused me with her fourth attempt: she is a reference for me, and receiving her compliments was really emotional."

France's Mayer may be a two-time world champion and have two Olympic silver medals, but it looks like his wait to win a European outdoor championship might continue after the first day of the decathlon.

The Frenchman sat eighth after the opening five disciplines on 4,230 points, Norway's Sander Skotheim led the field on 4,566.

A tough second day on Tuesday, comprising the 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500m, awaits the decathletes, with Mayer seeking to do the necessary to ensure qualification for next month's Paris Olympics.

- Double Swiss gold -

Switzerland enjoyed double gold on a balmy night. Angelica Moser won her first senior outdoor medal in the women's pole vault. The unheralded Timothe Mumenthaler took the men's 200m.

In the pole vault, world bronze medallist and reigning European champion Wilma Murto of Finland bailed out at 4.43m. Just seven vaulters cleared 4.58m.

That was reduced to three as the bar was raised by 10cm: Moser, Britain's world indoor champion and European leader Molly Caudery and Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece, seeking a historic third continental title.

The Swiss gambled by skipping the next mark at 4.73m, but was left punching the air when she cleared 4.78 at the first attempt. That proved too high for Stefanidi and Caudery, the Greek taking silver on countback.

The cowbells were soon ringing again after Mumenthaler, in the outside lane, timed 20.28sec to win the 200m ahead of home favourite Filippo Tortu, in 20.41. Another Swiss, William Reais, took bronze.

Belgium's Alexander Doom, who claimed the world indoor 400m title in Glasgow in March, set a championship record of 44.15sec to win the one-lap race.

Doom fought back to hold off Britain's Charles Dobson in the final metres, the Briton taking silver in a personal best of 44.38sec, with Liemarvin Bonevacia of the Netherlands claiming bronze (44.88).

Poland's multi-medal winning relay specialist Natalia Kaczmarek transmuted her individual silver from Munich two years ago to gold in a thrilling shoot-out with Ireland's Rhasidat Adeleke.

Adeleke and Sharlene Mawdsley had been the female components of their country's gold-medal winning 4x400m mixed relay team on Friday -- Ireland's first Euro gold since Sonia O'Sullivan's 5,000-10,000m double in Budapest in 1998.

As Mawdsley faded, Adeleke and Kaczmarek found themselves in a straight tussle for gold, the Pole eventually running out the winner in a world leading 48.98sec. Adeleke timed 49.07 for silver, with Dutch athlete Lieke Klaver taking bronze(50.08).

Alexis Miellet led a French 1-2 in the men's 3000m steeplechase, winning in a personal best of 8:14.01, 0.35sec ahead of teammate Djilali Bedrani. Germany's Karl Bebendorf will return home with bronze.

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