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Solid start by Swiss sprinters

Bitzi finished his Friday heat in second place Keystone

Ivan Bitzi and Raphäel Monachon have got off to a flying start at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Vienna, with both men qualifying for the semi-finals of the 60-metre hurdles.

The two Swiss runners recorded identical times of 7.78 seconds to guarantee their progress into Saturday’s semis.

Bitzi, who set a new Swiss record of 7.62 seconds in Magglingen two weeks ago, was able to qualify automatically after coming second in his heat.

Although registering the same time, Monachon could only manage fourth place in the last of the day’s qualifying heats but was still able to scrape into the semi-finals.

As well as the automatic qualifiers, the athletes with the six next best times also progress – and Monachon’s time was the sixth best.

Later on Friday, Swiss 800 metres star Andre Bucher will be hoping to come through his qualifying heat in a little more comfort.

The reigning world champion has seen many of his biggest rivals pulling out of the Vienna tournament and is a hot favourite to win Switzerland’s first European Indoor gold in 15 years.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR