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Alembekova claims 1st gold for Russia at Euros After gold, Schippers eases into 200 final

 ZURICH, Aug 14, (Agencies): With the 100-meter gold medal secured, Dafne Schippers dominated the 200 semifinals, too, the second step in a potential sprint triple at the European Championships on Thursday. Running a day after winning her first title, the Dutchwoman showed no ill effect from two more heats in barely eight hours as she clocked the fastest time for Friday’s final. “It was a real short night. But being tired at the start is nothing new for a heptathlete,” Schippers said. She turned sprinter for these championships and Wednesday’s 100 was seen as her toughest individual challenge. Thursday’s performance over the 200 underscored that. After a slow start, she put on the turbos halfway through, and suddenly was clear on her own, able to easily look right and left before easing up for a time of 22.48 seconds, easily the fastest of the semifinals.

As in the 100, it looks like Myriam Soumare of France will be her main rival, coming through in 22.56 to win her semifinal. Schippers has the fastest 200 time of the season, and if she wins the final on Friday she will have to rely on a strong performance from her relay teammates over the weekend to make it three titles. It would equal the sprint triple of Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won three individual events at the 1950 European Championships.

In other qualifying, Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie missed his first attempt at 5.60 meters in the pole vault but quickly recovered to qualify for Saturday’s final. One day ahead of women’s high jump qualifying, former world champion Blanka Vlasic was forced to pull out because of a knee injury. Her comeback from an Achilles operation two years ago had been one of the most anticipated events of the championships. In the first final of the day, Elmira Alembekova shook off her rivals late in the 20-km walk for a breakaway victory and a first gold medal for Russia.
 
Alembekova won her first major title when she crossed the line in Zurich’s old town in 1:27:56, beating Lyudmyla Olyanovska of Ukraine by 11 seconds. The third day of the competition also has finals in the women’s pole vault and javelin, and in the men’s triple jump, steeplechase and 110 hurdles. Croatia’s former world high jump champion Blanka Vlasic will miss the European Championship in Zurich due to a painful knee, her father and coach said on Thursday. “Although the first training went well, during the next two, the pain has grown stronger and after the late exercise on Wednesday we decided to give up the competition,” Josko Vlasic said. Vlasic said the injury was not “serious, but an inflammation of knee ligament”. “Blanka has to rest for four weeks and then start therapy and strengthening of the ligament,” Vlasic added. Vlasic, who won world gold in 2007 and 2009, as well as silver in 2011, returned to competition in February after a seven-month injury lay-off. She missed the 2012 Olympics because of repercussions from a poorly-performed operation on an ankle, but had shown she was returning to form with victory in her first event back, the Diamond League meet in New York.
 
At the Paris Diamond League meet in July, Vlasic won again with a jump of 2.00m, besting Russia’sn Mariya Kuchina on a countback. French sprint star Jimmy Vicaut pulled out of the European Championships in Zurich on Wednesday and announced that his season was at an end due to a thigh injury. Vicaut, 22, had been due to compete in the 100 metres semi-finals on Wednesday evening but he said at the French team hotel that he would not be running. “I will not take part in the semi-finals and I am putting an end to my season,” said Vicaut, who has struggled with the problem for the last seven weeks. “It is the best decision I could have taken. I don’t want to injure myself further.” Vicaut, whose personal best is 9.95sec, won silver at the 2012 European Championships in Helsinki and won 60m indoor gold in Gothenburg last year.

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