Israeli triple-jumper Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko.
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Israel avoided relegation from the European Athletics Team Championships Second League by the skin of its teeth on Sunday, finishing in eighth place from 12 teams at Hadar Yosef Stadium Tel Aviv.
Israel was hosting the event for the first time and its main goal was to finish above the bottom three, who were demoted to the Third League. Israel was promoted from the Third League two years ago when the competition was staged as part of the European Games in Baku.
The event wasn’t held last year due to the Rio Olympics.
The blue-and-white finished the two-day event on Sunday a mere 3.5 points ahead of relegated Serbia, which came 10th.
Hungary, Slovakia and Lithuania claimed the first three places and were promoted to the First League. Iceland and Moldova occupied the bottom two spots.
Latvia, Slovenia, Austria, Croatia and Cyprus will all continue with Israel in the Second League next year.
The European Athletics Team Championships comprises one single competition where men’s and women’s squads represent a single team. The winner of each individual event and each relay scores as many points as there are teams competing in the respective League, the second will score one fewer, and so on.
Israel only secured its survival following the final event of the competition, the 4×400-meters relay. The national men’s squad, led by Donald Sanford, came in sixth in a time of 3:10.11 minutes, ensuring Israel finished ahead of Serbia, who didn’t score any points in the event after its team was disqualified.
The most impressive performance by an Israeli over the two days of competition came courtesy of triple jumper Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko.
The 27-year-old, who finished in fifth place at the Rio Olympics last summer, won her event with a jump of 14.17 meters, well short of her personal best. She was nevertheless pleased with her performance in her first competition of the year, officially booking her place at the World Championships in London later this year.
“I’m really happy. This was my first event of the year and the first time I’m competing since the operation I underwent after the Olympics,” said Knyazyeva- Minenko, who claimed a silver medal at the World Championships in Beijing two years ago and also has a silver medal to her name from last year’s European Championships.
“This was like a training session for me and now I’m looking forward to the Maccabiah and the Israel national championships.”