Natalia Kaczmarek [1296x1296]
Natalia Kaczmarek [1296x1296] (Credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

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ROME -- American standout Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone is leading the way as expected in the 400 meters with the Paris Olympics less than 50 days away.

Jamaica's Nickisha Pryce and Poland's Natalia Kaczmarek are not far behind, though.

Kaczmarek clocked 48.98 seconds at the European athletics championships Monday to mark the third straight day that a woman has cracked the 49-second barrier.

Pryce got it started with a 48.89 for Arkansas at the NCAA championships Saturday. Then McLaughlin-Levrone responded with a 48.75 in New York Sunday.

In Rome, Kaczmarek surged past Ireland's Rhasidat Adeleke in the final meters to smash Irena Szewinska's 48-year-old Polish national record of 49.28 and set the fastest time by a European this century.

"Coming to the start, I was dreaming about the Polish record but this 48.98 was something more than my imagination," said Kaczmarek, the silver medalist at the worlds last year.

Adeleke, who helped Ireland to gold in the 4x400 mixed relay, took silver in 49.07. Lieke Klaver of the Netherlands claimed bronze in 50.08.

In the men's 400, Alexander Doom of Belgium also came from behind to win in a championship record 44.15 ahead of Charles Dobson of Britain (44.38) and Liemarvin Bonevacia of the Netherlands (44.88).

There was an upset in the hammer throw when Sara Fantini of host Italy beat three-time defending Olympic champion Anita Wlodarczyk for gold.

Then Timothe Mumenthaler of Switzerland silenced the home crowd when he edged Filippo Tortu - the anchorman from Italy's 4x100 gold at the Tokyo Olympics - to win the 200 in 20.28.

"It was a lost opportunity," Tortu said. "The gold was within reach. I just didn't run well. It's very upsetting and I can't celebrate this silver."

Mumenthaler won it from lane nine.