Adam Gemili (coach: Steve Fudge) capped off another special night for the GB & NI team at the Letzigrund Stadium by winning the hundredth British gold medal at the European Athletics Championships and the fifth of the evening.
Gold medal number 99 came in the first track race of the evening, Martyn Rooney (Rana Reider), like Gemili, winning his first major international title, to lead home rising star Matthew Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley) to a British 1-2. From his favoured lane three, Rooney ran an inch perfect back straight, leading off the final bend to take gold in a European leading 44.71 performance, his fastest time since the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
“I’ve never won anything in my life. I’ve won the trials and stuff, but to win the European Championships, I’m ecstatic. It was great to have a 1-2 as well, that’s great for British Athletics, for me personally to have someone to race for the next couple of years – it’s amazing – I’ve come out on top today.”
On his 19 year old teammate Hudson-Smith, Rooney added:
“Matt’s a fantastic kid. Call up rooms are good fun with him – I love having him about, he’s got a great coach, great family, great set up and I think he’s good for British Athletics. Its great we’ve got another young British talent coming through.”
Hudson-Smith smashed his personal best with a 44.75 run, to run Rooney extremely close. It’s been a fantastic first year at 400m for the youngster, who won European Junior Championships bronze over the 200m last year.
He said: “Scary! It was fun – I don’t know what to say! It’s my first seniors, first time ever doing 400m in rounds since I was about 13 or 14, and I came away with a silver medal! With a PB! And it wasn’t really the cleanest of races, so there’s a lot more in there which is scary, because I just ran 44.75!
“I just got beat by my idol! I’ll get him back – I’ve got hopefully 10 years in the sport – this is just the beginning really.”
The night ended as it started; Gemili tearing out of his blocks to hold a three metre advantage over Christophe Lemaitre of France on his inside coming off the bend. The Commonwealth Games 100m silver medallist excelled in the straight though, hitting top speed to edge away from Lemaitre and the rest of the field and to add a European lead of 19.98 to his title.
What’s more, that time came into a 1.6m/s headwind on a cold evening where the temperature was just 13 degrees. But it was the title that mattered most to the 20 year old, as you could tell by the look on his face as he crossed the line.
“I’m really happy I equalled my PB in quite cold conditions into a little bit of a headwind; I’m just so pleased I was able to come out here and… well, European champion – its mental!
“I just wanted to try win – I had the big man Christophe in the lane inside of me and I knew he’d be coming, so I tried to just run the bend as I usually do and hang on for dear life. I could hear the footsteps coming, and you could probably see the tension in my face, but then I crossed the line and saw a sub 20 and I was gob-smacked!
“My training partner James won the 100m and when he came back in to the room I thought, right it would be good to bring the 200m back and have both the one and the two in our camp – I’m proud I could do it for the rest of my team.”
Jodie Williams (Christine Bowmaker) won a sensational 200m silver medal thanks to a scintillating last 100m, in a race won in a world leading time of 22.03, as Dafne Schippers broke the Dutch national record, adding 200m gold to the 100m title she won earlier this week.
Williams also smashed her personal best with a 22.46 run into a 0.5m/s headwind to add to the silver medal she won at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow just two weeks ago.
“It was good! Obviously Dafne ran insanely fast and I was just trying to chase her down as much as possible. It got to a point where I didn’t think I was going to get a medal so I just tried to push as hard as I could and managed to come away with a silver medal and a PB so I’m really happy.”
Bianca Williams (Lloyd Cowan) also ran another strong race, to just miss out on the medals in fourth place. Her time of 22.68 was just one tenth down on her personal best set earlier this year, to cap off a great fortnight where she also won two bronze medals at Glasgow 2014.
There was disappointment however for IAAF World Junior champion Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie), who after setting a 22.61 personal best in the semi-finals yesterday pulled up with a hamstring injury after 80 metres.
“I pulled my hamstring in the World Juniors, so to come here and perform like I did yesterday is unbelievable. This time last week I wasn’t able to run at 60%, so I can’t believe I did that. I’m still happy – I said yesterday it was the best day of my life and I’m not going to say this is the worst.”
Full of confidence after winning silver in Glasgow a fortnight ago, Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) wasn’t afraid to put her neck on the line and take it to the first and fourth fastest women in the world this year, Sifan Hassan of Holland and Abeba Aregawi of Sweden. Taking it on at 800m, Weightman wasn’t fazed when the aforementioned duo took over at the bell, instead doing everything in her power to hang onto them. And whilst she couldn’t quite stay in touch, she dig drag herself away from the rest of the field.
It certainly made for a painful last 100m, but despite a couple of nervous glances over her shoulder, the Morpeth Harrier kept fighting, crossing the line in 4.06.32 to secure a hard earned bronze medal.
“I’m really pleased with the bronze,” she said. “I knew coming into the final that it was going to be tough with Aregawi and Hassan and the shape they’ve been in this year. I didn’t think I could live with the kind of pace they have on the last lap, so with 600m to go I really tried to push it on and make it a hard run race to take the sting out of the legs of the other girls. The last 200m was really tough but I’m glad that I pushed on. Steve [Cram] said that if I did that I’d be rewarded and I was.”
Hannah England (Bud Baldaro) found herself just short of a medal, finishing in sixth place just one and a half seconds down on Weightman, before admitting she wasn’t quite where she wanted to be.
“It was a fun race, a good race and I thought all the competition ran well. I was pleased with how I ran but a bit gutted [with the result], but my fitness isn’t what it has been other years.”
The women’s 400m was arguably even more exciting than the men’s race, with Italian Libania Grenot leading from lane three by 200m and holding on all the way to take gold. There was a gargantuan scrap for the other medals, with Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) closing like a train, but just running out of track, in the end being out-dipped to finish fourth.
As you would expect, Ohuruogu was extremely gracious in defeat, accepting that her season’s best of 51.38 wasn’t quite enough.
“I’m happy I came. I’m not really surprised about the result; I was in no position to win that. I’ve not really done the work to support anything faster than what I’ve done, but it’s OK and I’m totally fine with that.
“I wanted to come out here and enjoy the experience as I’ve had quite a light year. 2012 and 2013 were hard and there’s no way I can go for five years on the trot in my event.”
Conrad Williams (Linford Christie) was pleased despite having to watch his teammates celebrate their medals, his fifth place finish is his best ever at an international championships. Just missing his season’s best with a 45.53 time, he’ll now return to the track to chase 4x400m gold with Rooney, Hudson-Smith and the rest of the British team.
Chris Baker (Sharon Heveran) can be proud of making the men’s high jump final at his first European Championships. After clearing 2.21m, he found the going a little too tough, bowing out after a close final attempt at 2.26m. Reflecting on his eleventh place finish, Baker said:
“It was a really tough comp. Its’ the highest start height I’ve ever come in at, 2.21m. I’m happy to even clear that to be honest. I’ve had a great season. Last year if you’d told me I’d be at the European finals I’d have just laughed in your face! It’s been a great year so I can’t complain at all with it.”
Olympic and world champion Greg Rutherford (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) was one of three Brits in action in men’s long jump qualifying, and he hit the 8 metre automatic qualifying mark with a second round 8.03m to advance to Sunday’s final with minimal energy expended. Joining him from the other pool are Chris Tomlinson and JJ Jegede (Peter Stanley) who jumped 7.89m and 7.81m respectively.
Full results from the championships so far can be seen here: https://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-championships/2014/schedules-results/
With just one session tomorrow afternoon, GB & NI medal hopes come in the men’s pole vault, as well as the women’s 400mH, 800m and 5,000m.
GB & NI team performances:
GOLD – Jo Pavey – Women’s 10,000m
GOLD – Mo Farah – Men’s 10,000m
GOLD – Tiffany Porter – Women’s 100m hurdles
GOLD – James Dasaolu – Men’s 100m
GOLD – Martyn Rooney – Men’s 400m
GOLD – Adam Gemili – Men’s 200m
SILVER – Andy Vernon – Men’s 10,000m
SILVER – William Sharman – Men’s 110mH
SILVER – Matthew Hudson-Smith – Men’s 400m
SILVER – Jodie Williams – Women’s 200m
BRONZE – Ashleigh Nelson – Women’s 100m
BRONZE – Harry Aikines Aryeetey – Men’s 100m
BRONZE – Laura Weightman – Women’s 1500m
4th – Dwain Chambers – Men’s 100m
4th – Christine Ohuruogu – Women’s 400m
4th – Bianca Williams – Women’s 200m
5th – Conrad Williams – Men’s 400m
6th – Hannah England – Women’s 1500m
7th – Desiree Henry – Women’s 100m
8th – Goldie Sayers – Women’s Javelin