Team Europe might have only taken six individual victories on the first day of The Match Europe v USA in Minsk on Monday (9) but the home contingent has amassed a lead – albeit a slender one over the Americans with 328 to 312 points – heading into the second day.

The standout performer at the Dinamo National Olympic Stadium was home star Maksim Nedasekau who delivered a full complement of points for Team Europe in the men’s high jump. 

The European silver medallist further demonstrated his excellent temperament on the big stage by clearing 2.33m on his first attempt to ensure the individual victory and nine points ahead of his Team Europe teammate Ilya Ivanyuk, who won bronze behind Nedasekau at the European Championships last summer.

Nedasekau had already matched the world lead with his winning clearance at 2.33m but inspired by a loud and supportive crowd on the bottom bend, the 21-year-old sailed clear at a lifetime best and world lead of 2.35m on his second attempt to further embellish his evening’s work. 

Nedasekau was greeted by a hug and congratulations from Ivanyuk who between them contributed 16 points to the Team Europe tally.

“It’s extremely important and pleasant for me to win in the competition that is held in my native city. Every time I made an attempt, the whole stadium was applauding and shouting, and I felt the support of every person here,” said Nedasekau.

Another star performer on day one for Team Europe was the indomitable Sandra Perkovic from Croatia. Still searching for her best form after a knee injury, Perkovic needed five attempts before she took the lead from the United States’ Laulauga Tausaga-Collins – 63.96m to 63.71m – but the five-time European champion showed some of the form of old in the sixth round, hurling the 1.5 kilogram implement well in excess of the 65-metre line to 67.65m. 

“Team Europe is the best in the world, I’m happy that I won and we can prove it! I really enjoy the atmosphere here in Minsk. The stadium was screaming when I threw 67 metres!” said Perkovic.

There was a one-two for Team Europe in the women’s pole vault as anticipated but the outcome from the Brussels Diamond League on Friday night was reversed as European indoor champion Anzhelika Sidorova defeated European outdoor champion Ekaterini Stefanidi.

Sidorova and Stefanidi both cleared 4.70m on their first attempts but the Russian took the ascendency with a second time clearance at 4.80m. While Stefanidi produced two failures at 4.75m and one at 4.80m, Sidorova then raised the bar to 4.85m which she cleared on her second attempt, a clearance which was only one centimetre below her outdoor lifetime best.

“I really enjoy such kind of competitions,” said Sidorova. “On the one hand I feel great responsibility but on the other hand I feel great support from the team and fans.”

Team Europe went even better in the men’s hammer with Poles Pawel Fajdek and Wojciech Nowicki and Great Britain’s Nick Miller ensuring a clean sweep for Team Europe.

Fajdek, the three-time reigning world champion, produced the only throw in excess of 80 metres in the third round with 80.71m ahead of Nowicki (78.33m) with Miller improving to 77.89m in the sixth round to ensure a clean sweep for the host continent.

“I am proud to be a part of the European team, it was awesome, even though I am so tired now. Minsk is a very beautiful city with nice facilities, it is my first time here, but I have a lot of friends here,” said Fajdek.

There was very nearly a seventh victory for Team Europe in the javelin but the very experienced American Kara Winger eclipsed former European champion Tatsiana Khaladovich’s third round lead of 64.41m with her final attempt which was measured at 64.63m.

Even so, Team Europe still secured healthy points from the event with France’s Alexie Alais (64.41m) and Latvia’s Lina Muze (60.86m) finishing third and fourth respectively.

A large British contingent also contributed two victories on the track. Daryll Neita ran down the fast starting Dezerea Bryant in the women’s 100m – 11.29 to 11.30 – while Alexandra Bell pipped her Team Europe teammate Olha Lyakhova from Ukraine in a tactical 800m – 2:04.81 to 2:04.90. Jake Wightman just missed out on a full complement of points in the 1500m in which he was pipped on the line by Joshua Thompson from the United States – 3:38.88 to 3:38.90.

In the men’s shot put, Poland’s Konrad Bukowiecki produced throws of 21.70m, 21.85m and 21.92m but none of these excellent performances could dislodge Darrell Hill. The Team USA captain led by example as he scored nine points for the away contingent, beginning his campaign with 22.13m in the first round before setting a season’s best of 22.35m on his second attempt.

Croatia’s Filip Mihaljevic also performed excellently for Team Europe, picking up six points with his third round throw of 21.60m to finish behind Hill and Bukowiecki.

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