On a night when the British team added a number of medals to their tally, there was joy for Martyn Rooney (coach: Rana Reider) who retained his European Championships title in style, with several athletes collecting their first senior major medals.
It was a superb performance by Martyn Rooney (Rana Reider) who won his second European 400m gold medal. It never looked in doubt as he ran another controlled race before accelerating in the final 150m to obliterate the competition, taking it in 45.29. He beat a field including Pavel Maslak and Kevin Borlee to secure a second major individual title and further his aspirations for a spot in Rio.
A delighted Rooney said: “I like championships, so when it comes to championships this is where I peak and seem to do well. I’ve backed it up and fortunately a lot of other people have as well – a lot of other people have taken the opportunity to use this Europeans. A couple more athletes have come here and picked up medals and there will be more to come. It’s great for us, going to Olympics with confidence.
“Roger Black is a good person to follow (retaining titles) though he probably did it every 4 years! But I’ll take it – the double – to defend a title is great. Last time I won I was relieved, this time I’m elated.”
There was a silver medal for Jazmin Sawyers (Alan Lerwill) in the women’s long jump after a magnificent, albeit wind-assisted, 6.86m (+2.8) leap in round two. The multi-talented athlete has already won European U23 silver and European Junior silver in her career, so it was only right that she added the senior silver medal to her collection as well on a breakthrough night for the City of Stoke jumper.
Sawyers was in an upbeat mood after, saying: “I’m so happy – it’s going well – my first European senior champs and a silver medal! I couldn’t be happier with that. I wanted to give it something big in that last round but I may have given it too much and slipped on the board and went flying! But I’m really proud with that performance.
“It might have been windy but I coped with it – it was mental, one minute plus 4, next minus 2, it was all over the place and I managed to get a few solid jumps on that and I’ve broken my ‘jumping horribly in the first three rounds’ duck. I’ve managed to get some consistency in there and produce things before rounds four, five and six. The goal has been consistency and if I can combine consistency with excellence then I’ve got something really great.”
It was a maiden individual major championships medal for Anyika Onuora (Reider) in the women’s 400m final, holding off a strong finishing Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) to grab the bronze medal. After looking supreme in their semi-finals yesterday, the British athletes were left trailing as 2014 champion Libiana Grenot charged around the first 300m and held on to recapture her title. However, Onuora beat her compatriot to earn her spot on the podium.
Onuora spoke afterwards: “I kept fighting and driving and diving through the line and it paid off, but I didn’t know until afterwards because they kept us waiting on the scoreboard for a long while. I thought it must have been close and I was hoping and praying I’d get the third spot – and I did.
“It’s meant the world for us (me and Martyn Rooney) to come here – him to defend his championship gold, and for me to come away with my first individual medal, it means everything. He understands me more than anyone because he sees me day in day out putting the work in; I don’t complain I get on with it. Coming from a 100-200 background, I’m so used to having a group. Whereas now I’m doing these long workouts – it’s like death. Coming here and knowing it’s paid off makes me so happy.”
Ohuruogu added: “I can’t complain – you have to take what you have and make the best out of it. I missed the trials and two rounds of 400m, and then I had about 10 days to prep for this. I can’t complain. I’ve had three rounds of good running. The first run was nice, the run yesterday was nice, today I was probably a bit tired.”
There was drama in the men’s 200m final as Danny Talbot (Benke Blomkvist) was promoted to the bronze medal position after finishing fourth in 20.56 (-0.9), as the winner Churandy Martina was latterly disqualified. It was a fine result for Talbot who had been the fastest qualifier for the semis after clocking 20.37. It earned him his first senior major individual medal. Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Dennis Shaver) was sixth in 20.60, after narrowly squeezing into the final as the last additional qualifier.
In the women’s 100m final, there was a close finish for the medals, but Asha Philip (Steve Fudge) was narrowly outside them in fourth, just 0.02 seconds outside a medal behind Switzerland’s Kambundju. The race was ultimately won by Netherland’s Dafne Schippers in 10.90 to the delight of the home crowd, but Philip recorded 11.27 (-0.2). Sadly, Desiree Henry (Rana Reider) fell to the track after 50m.
Sophie Hitchon (Tore Gustafsson) enjoyed a consistent series of throws on her way to a fourth place finish in the women’s hammer throw final. Her series was as followed; 70.91/71.74m/71.33m/70.03m/71.59m/71.41m. Her second round effort was the pick of the bunch in a competition won by Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk with 78.14m.
One of the bravest displays of the night came from Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans) who battled for bronze throughout the men’s 10,000m final but just came undone in the final 300m, settling for fifth place. However, it was a valiant effort from the Welshman who lowered his personal best by almost six seconds to 28:28.55. It was a significant chunk off his previous best for the Welshman who has been in fine form this year. Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau) did not start due to a foot injury.
There was disappointment for both Brits in the men’s 400m hurdles final as Rhys Williams (Adrian Thomas) finished fifth in 49.63 with Jack Green (June Plews) pulling up after hitting the seventh hurdle. Williams was running from lane eight but coming into the home straight, just did not have the final burst to catch the medallists. For Green, he clattered the first hurdle and did well not to lose his footing there, but it clearly disrupted his rhythm and sadly, he did not finish.
There was a valiant effort from Rob Mullett (David Leach) as he chased that second Olympic qualifying standard in the men’s 3000m steeplechase but he was just short on his way to a sixth place finish. He crossed the line in 8:33.29, but it was a solid performance in his first championships with the British team since an injury at the European Team Championships in Gateshead three years ago.
Another British athlete who has been in fine form in 2016 is Jade Lally (Andrew Neal) and she backed up her fitness to place seventh in the women’s discus final. It was her first time in a European final but she performed credibly, throwing a best of 60.29m in round five. After winning the British title last month, it was another stepping stone for the field eventer who will now look towards the Olympic Games.
Elliot Giles (Matthew Yates) ran a composed race to advance to his first ever major final after finishing third in the second semi-final of the men’s 800m, posting a time of 1:47.31. It has been a breakthrough championship for the Birchfield athlete who won the British title last month. He looked to be trying to burst between the leading two athletes in the closing 50m to run a faster time but will have another chance in the final on Sunday.
In the women’s 1500m heats, two senior international debutants were in action for the British team. Sarah McDonald (Bud Baldaro) ran a confident race and manoeuvred her way into a good position with 100m to go, and held on to fourth place in 4:11.14 which guaranteed her a place in Sunday’s final. Unfortunately, Melissa Courtney (Mark Pauley) couldn’t join her after a tactical race left her in eighth place, recording a time of 4:18.74.
In the heptathlon, Morgan Lake (Eldon Lake) was down on her season’s best in the shot put, managing a best of 13.21m on her second attempt which moved her down to 10th place on 2715 points. However, a tight hamstring curtailed the competition for the 19 year-old who withdrew before the 200m.
Full results from the European Championships can be found here: http://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-championships/2016/schedules-results/