Bartels, Abitova bag gold

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> German shot putter Ralf Bartels and Russia's 10,000-metre runner Inga Abitova won gold in the European Athletics Championships on Monday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:36 IST
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German shot putter Ralf Bartels and Russia's 10,000-metre runner Inga Abitova won gold on the opening day of the European Athletics Championships on Monday. Home favourite Carolina Kluft leads after four rounds of the heptathlon after her main rival, France's Eunice Barber, pulled out with a thigh injury. Kluft was reportedly in tears due to an injury scare before the competition, but her cause was helped when Barber, who led after the 100m hurdles and the high jump, withdrew. Second place in the shot put strengthened her position but a disappointing 200 metres saw her finish the day 124 points ahead of Sotherton. Good throw In the final of the men's shot put, Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus led with a second-round throw of 21.11 metres. Denmark's Joachim Olsen went two cm shy of that mark but the 2003 world champion remained in front until the sixth and final round. Ralf Bartels was in fourth place despite having had five throws in excess of 20 metres. But the German, who claimed bronze in last year's world championships, saved the best for last to go into gold medal position by two cm with 21.13 metres. Mikhnevich had one chance to regain the lead but his effort fell short and he had to settle for second behind a jubilant Bartels. There was a shock in the final of the women's 10,000 metres with Elvan Abeylegassie of Turkey, the fastest athlete in the world this year, dropping out with six laps remaining. Russia's Inga Abitova broke clear with a lap to go and she stayed clear of Norway's Susanne Wigene to take gold, with Lidiya Grigoryeva picking up the bronze. The physical exertion clearly took its toll on the 24-year-old but she recovered sufficiently to join fellow Russian Grigoryeva on a lap of honour. (AP)

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