A year ago Denmark’s men of Sparta AM and the French women from CA Montreuil 93 suffered the despair of relegation from senior Group A of the European Champions Clubs Cup.
On Saturday in Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium, they secured their places back in the top flight by winning the Group B competition.
But for both, it was not a runaway success and the penultimate events, the 4x100m relays, proved key moments.
In the end Sparta won the men’s event from AD Mass Ljubljana of Slovenia and Montreuil took the women’s from Dutch hosts Phanos, with all four teams promoted.
Sprinter Nick is key for Sparta
Nick Ekelund-Arenander was one of the stars of the day as he produced a superb double victory for Sparta.
Ekelund-Arenander won the 200m and 400m but only when Serbia’s AC Radnicki were disqualified from the 4x100m relay were the top two places decided.
Ekelund-Arenander won the 200m in 21.37 and 400m in 46.70 and Sparta’s overall success proved how much this is a team competition as their supplementary finishes took them to the title.
They had finished bottom of Group A in Portugal last year with 51 points but they are back in the top flight of a competition in which AD Mass Ljubljana looked on their way to winning.
Ljubljana’s first individual victory came as Zan Rudolf took the 800m in 1:49.39, but they also went on to win the 3000m with Jan Petrac powering to victory in 8:34.26, Blaz Grad took the 3000m steeplechase in 9:05.50 and then Matija Kranjc won the javelin with 77.67m to bank another set of full points for the Slovenians.
It was an incredibly close competition as the scoreboard showed after 17 events, with Ljubljana leading with 120.50, just a point ahead of Sparta with Radnicki back in third with 117.
Radnicki had narrowed the gap superbly in the second half of the day, having been back in fourth after 12 events on 73 as Ljubljana led with 91.5.
Their rise up the table came thanks to Ivan Horvat winning the pole vault with 5.20m and Lazar Anic taking the long jump with 7.38m.
The 1500m, the 18th event, saw a big change at the top in a race won in 3:51.55 by Kim Ruell, of Belgium’s RESC. But with Cho Kyun Mihn back in third for Sparta in 3:57.43, scoring eight points, and Ljubljana’s Kristian Grunfeld ninth in 4:06.17, meaning two points, the Danish side took over at the top with 127.5 from Radnicki with 123 and Ljubljana with 122.5.
It was down to the two relays and the first race produced the drama with Radnicki disqualified as LG Bern won in 40.72 from Ljubljana in 41.74, but with Sparta winning the second heat in 41.69, they scored nine points and stretched their lead to six with 136.5 from Ljubljana with just the 4x400m left.
Radnicki were then disqualified from the first heat of the 4x400m, too, which Phanos won in 3:16.75 but it was the second race which confirmed the final points score as Sparta earned only their third ’10 points’ of the day as they won in 3:09.80 in a race where it was Ljubljana’s turn to be disqualified.
1. Sparta AM (DEN) 146.5
2. AD Mass Ljubljana (SLO) 130.5
3. Phanos (NED) 124.5
4. AC Radnicki (SRB) 123
5. LG Bern (SUI) 111.5
6. IR-Reykjavik Sportclub (ISL) 106.5
7. Jyvaskylaan Kenttaurheilijat (FIN) 105
8. RESC (BEL) 96
9. C.S.Luxembourg (LUX) 71
10. Crusaders A.C. (IRL) 65.5
It’s Montreuil glory but Hinriksdottir is a class apart
The French women from CA Montreuil 93 triumphed in a European Champion Clubs Cup where they were always in a good position, having made the perfect start as Myrnah Bloud took the opening event, the 400m hurdles, in 60.77 to bank 10 points for her club.
But it was race number two which gave the competition one of the best performances of the weekend, and that includes the events in Portugal which is staging Group A.
The reason was one of the greatest young talents in world athletics – Iceland’s brilliant 18-year-old Anita Hinriksdottir.
The 2013 European Athletics Junior 800m champion and World Youth 800m champion was in a class of her own as she won by over eight seconds in 2:03.68 from Serena Monachino, of ACSI Italia Clubb, who was second in 2:11.71.
Running for IR-Reykjavik Sportclub, Hinriksdottir produced the 14th quickest time by a European this year as she makes impressive inroads into the senior rankings.
And though France’s Mama Fall was back in third in 2:15.27, she still scored eight points which was proof of how important the placings can be.
Hosts Phanos achieved their first win when Jamile Samuel took the 200m in 23.94 and it was not until the discus that France triumphed again as Melanie Pingeon won with 51.05m before Laurianne Laurendot took the shot put with 13.63m.
After 17 events, Montreuil’s lead was down to nine points from Phanos – 130 to 121 – and then when Sephora Bissoly won the javelin for the French club, it looked like it had sealed a nerveless end to the competition as she triumphed with 51.85m from her first throw.
It meant 10 points with the Dutch side back in eighth as Karin Leber scored three points with 35.07, but then came the drama of the 4x100m relay.
Phanos scored 10 points as they won race two in 44.74 and they did so having seen Montreuil disqualified from the opening heat, which meant no points.
Who would take the title?
With just the 4x400m relay to go, Montreuil led by only six with 140 from Phanos.
The Netherlands team won the first heat in 3:48.59, scoring nine, and though Reykjavik took the second in 3:45.50 for the 10 points, Montreuil were back in third to score seven which was enough to be crowned champions.
1. CA Montreuil 93 (FRA) 147
2. Phanos (NED)) 143
3. Jyvaskylaan Kenttaurheilijat (FIN) 126
4. IR-Reykjavik Sportclub (ISL) 120
5. AD Mass Ljubljana (SLO) 114
6. ACSI Italia Clubb (ITA) 112
7. Celtic Diekirch (LUX) 95
8. STB Leichtathletik (SUI) 87
9. Dundrum South Dublin A.C. (IRL) 77
10. Reshon Le Zion (ISR) 67