Donald Sanford will look to reach the 400-meter final at the European Championships for a second straight time in Zurich, Switzerland on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old California native, who received Israeli citizenship three years ago after marrying an Israeli, finished his heat in second place in the first day of the championships on Tuesday in a time of 46.18 seconds. Sanford, who came a mere nine hundredths of a second from winning an historic medal in a sprint event at the previous European Championships, finishing in fourth place in Helsinki two years ago, eased up at the line on Tuesday, reserving energy in the knowledge that the top four automatically advance to the semis.

“I felt great,” said Sanford. “In the final stretch I saw that I could lower the pace and still advance to the semis, which will be the real battle for me.”

Also Tuesday, Noam Ne’eman ended the men’s 3,000m steeplechase in 22nd place out of the 27 runners who finished the race, clocking a time of 8:45.33 minutes, seven seconds slower than his personal best.

Israel’s top female athlete, Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko, will aim to reach the final of the triple jump on Wednesday.

Knyazyeva-Minenko, who received citizenship last year after marrying Israeli athlete Anatoly Minenko, missed much of the past year through injury, but showed she is nearing top form once more after winning the national title last month with a jump of 14.23m fresh off a ninemonth lay-off. Knyazyeva-Minenko, who finished in sixth place at the World Championships last year in her first major event as an Israeli, will expect to progress to Saturday’s final.

Also Wednesday, Girmaw Amare and Aymro Alemaye will take part in the 10,000m race.

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