Sandra Elkasevic aims to become the only woman with seven European discus titles. GETTY IMAGES

Croatian discus legend Sandra Elkasevic got her bid for a record seventh European title off to a smooth start by cruising through qualifiers at Rome's Stadio Olimpico on Friday.

The Croatian star breezed through the qualifying rounds and will look to continue her unbeaten run of continental titles on Saturday, which dates back to Barcelona in 2010. Elkasevic did not struggle to qualify for the European Championships, which took place last Friday. 

She could become the first woman to win seven European discus titles. The 33-year-old is a two-time Olympic and two-time World champion. However, when it comes to European titles, she has established a dominance that has seen her not lose a continental tournament since Barcelona in 2010. She has reached five consecutive finals in Zurich, Helsinki, Amsterdam, Berlin and Munich over the last 12 years.

Rome will host fourteen European champions. Elkasevic threw 65.62 metres in her second attempt to book her place in Saturday's final, which is scheduled to begin at 20:37 CEST.

Discus thrower Elkasevic, born Sandra Perkovic, set the record with six consecutive gold medals and will be looking to add to that tally. This year, she is the favourite despite not being the season leader, as Germany's Steinacker and Portugal's Rodrigues have thrown further than her (67.31 and 66.60 respectively).

On the opening day of the six-day European Championships in Rome, Elkasevic was not the only highlight. The first two events of the women's heptathlon were also held. British world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson will be aiming for her first European title after taking silver in Berlin in 2018.

It will be her first heptathlon of the season, having competed in several individual events, and she has described the seven-event, two-day event as "spinning plates" due to the balance of mental and physical demands.

Marcell Jacobs, a contender for the title in the 100 meters, is one of the attractions of the championship. X @earoma2024
Marcell Jacobs, a contender for the title in the 100 meters, is one of the attractions of the championship. X @earoma2024

It will be an extra challenge for the athletes who will have to perform at a high level under considerable stress. She started with a season's best of 13.66 seconds in the 100m hurdles. Her Belgian rival Nafi Thiam was 13.74. 

Thiam, a two-time Olympic champion, two-time European champion and two-time world champion, took the lead in the high jump with a best of 1.95m, while Johnson-Thompson cleared 1.83m.

They will compete in the long jump, javelin and 800m on Saturday. Greece's Miltiadis Tentoglou qualified easily in the men's long jump.  The Olympic and World Champion jumped 8.14 metres in his first attempt. 

He will be in the final on Saturday. The duel with Switzerland's Simon Ehammer, who jumped 8.41m, promises to be exciting. Reigning World and Olympic champion Daniel Stahl of Sweden qualified with a best throw of 63.79 metres in the men's discus.

Saturday will see the finals of the 20km Race Walk, the shot put and the women's 5000m. Femke Bol, who last won triple gold in Munich in 2022, will be competing in the combined events. The Dutch runner will be looking for medals once again.

Bol will be competing in the 400m hurdles and the women's 4x400m relay after taking bronze in the mixed 4x400m relay on Friday. Saturday will conclude with the 100m final. Italian Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs will be the main attraction.