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European Champs: stars shine in Rome heats

The European Athletics Championships in Rome kicked off with a bang on Monday, with big names securing their spots in the finals.

Swedish pole vault king Armand Duplantis, aiming for his third straight European title, cruised through qualification, clearing only 5.60m. The Olympic and two-time world champion remains the overwhelming favorite, having already shattered his own world record this season. “Gold medal and jumping high are the goals,” Duplantis declared, keeping his focus on the upcoming Olympic Games.

Norwegian hurdling phenomenon Karsten Warholm lived up to his reputation, effortlessly winning his heat in the 400m hurdles. Warholm, a three-time world champion, expressed his delight at competing in Rome’s historic setting and urged the crowd to bring the noise for the finals.

Defending champion Femke Bol of the Netherlands displayed similar dominance in the women’s 400m hurdles, comfortably securing her place in the final. Both Warholm and Bol are clear favorites to win their respective events, using these championships as a crucial stepping stone towards Paris.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Warholm’s compatriot, made a powerful statement in the 1500m. The Norwegian, fresh off his 5,000m victory, effortlessly controlled the race, winning his heat and setting himself up as the frontrunner for a potential double-double (gold in both 1500m and 5,000m) – a feat he achieved in both Berlin and Munich.

Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson, the reigning champion in the 800m and a world and Olympic silver medalist, also safely progressed to the finals. Hodgkinson acknowledged the challenges of heats, where racers balance saving energy with avoiding early elimination.

With the stage set for thrilling finals, the European Championships promise a captivating display of athletic prowess from these global stars.

(Source: AFP)

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