Three medals were won by the British team on day two of the European Championships in Amsterdam, with multiple global medallist Greg Rutherford (coach: Dan Pfaff) retaining his long jump title and Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) claiming her first senior individual gold medal in the women’s 200m.
Rutherford retained the European title he won two years ago, savigng his best jump until round five, with a leap of 8.25m to win his fifth major gold medal. It was not all plain sailing for the Grand Slam champion though, as his friend and opponent Michel Torneus led for four rounds, but the Olympic gold medallist’s quality shone through as he won a second European title.
An overjoyed Rutherford said: “That was pretty good today, doing what I needed to do to win. I felt much better today than I did yesterday. It started well, the 8.12m was ok and then in round three I had a big foul again, but I thought I’ve got something here.
“My right leg started getting quite tight and after the third, my hamstring was hurting a little bit but I think it was a mixture of nerves and expectation on myself and everything else. But I’m thrilled, this is my fifth major title now and I don’t think many have done that before, so I am really happy.
“I’ve retained the European title, but for me whilst it is all well and good being the best in Europe, for me it’s about being the best in the world. I’ll go into Rio fully expecting to do the same again as I feel some things coming together.”
Asher-Smith (John Blackie) won her first individual European gold medal in the women’s 200m with a supreme and measured race, crossing the line in 22.37 (-0.4). It never looked in doubt as the British record holder led after a controlled bend and then accelerated down the home straight to finish in a season’s best. It was the 20 year-old’s first senior individual title and she was overjoyed to win.
A delighted Asher-Smith spoke afterwards: “I didn’t expect it because I knew I was in a good position going in, but at the same time I knew I had to go in there and actually run a good race. Nothing is given out on favourites for titles or season’s bests or qualifying times, so I had to go out there and execute. Sometimes I get a bit nervous and I tie up the last 30m as I did so I just wanted to cross the line first and I did so I was super-happy!
“It’s so cool; I can’t wait for the medal ceremony. My mum’s here – I saw her on the victory lap she was jumping up and down and crying at me, it was cool and I’m really, really happy.
On how the race played out, the graduate of the British Athletics Futures programmes added: “You can’t gauge how close they are – it’s a difficult sensation to describe – I was just thinking ‘keep going, keep going.’ I was just focussed on crossing the line first.”
The silver medallist from the 2014 edition of the Championships, Jodie Williams (Ryan Freckleton) made improvements in the final, clocking 22.96 to claim sixth spot overall.
In a fast and furious 100m hurdles final, Tiffany Porter (Rana Reider) added another European medal to her collection, winning bronze in 12.76 (-0.7) behind world medallist Cindy Roleder of Germany and Belarus’ Alina Talay. Roleder set a European leading time of 12.62 as Porter confirmed a spot on the podium once again to add to her accolade of winning gold in 2014.
Porter reflected: “My start was really good, I had a bad last couple of hurdles but I’m still working on a couple of things. However, I’m looking forward to my next race and getting the kinks out, and put it together when it matters which ultimately is in Rio.”
“Obviously I wanted to defend my title, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I’m never scared of competition – I never shy away from an opportunity to run well and now I am really looking forward to my next race.
James Ellington (Linford Christie) finished fifth in the 100m final in 10.19 (0.0), but had earlier run the race of his life to clock 10.04 (+1.5) in the semi-final. The earlier mark was a personal best and a time which moved him to equal eighth in the UK all-time list alongside Mark Lewis-Francis and Darren Campbell. In the final, Richard Kilty (Benke Blomkvist) was disqualified for a false start but had earlier won his semi-final in 10.15 (-0.4).
Earlier in the programme, Ojie Edoburun (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) finished fourth in a second men’s 100m semi-final, clocking 10.20 (+0.6) on his senior international debut. Although he did not reach the final, it was a valuable learning experience for the youngster.
In the men’s decathlon, there was a big throw from Ashley Bryant (Aston Moore) in the javelin throw, which was just seven centimetres away from his personal best, recording a distance of 70.37m. It followed two efforts of 68.23m and 69.19m showing the consistency of the Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow athlete in the discipline. It won him the javelin competition and placed him on 7321 points heading into the final event.
As a result, Bryant needed a time significantly faster than his personal best to secure the Olympic standard but despite a valiant effort, just came short. He ran 4:33.88 to finish the competition on 8040 points and in fifth position; his highest ever finish in a European final.
Bryant assessed the two days of decathlon action: “I’ve had five season’s bests across the competition. I had three today when I was really up against it so I’m proud of how I gave it a go.”
In her first ever European final, Rachel Wallader settled for 12th in a high quality field. She managed a best of 16.06m in round three but only the top eight progressed for a further three throws.
Wallader said: “I really don’t know what happened today. I suppose it was a new experience but I was getting to grips with competing two days in a row. I was up for it mentally but my body just couldn’t get that snap that I needed. It is a really good field out there but I was hoping to be up there competing with them. I can take away that I’ve made it to a European final but I’m gutted I couldn’t perform as I would have wanted in it.”
There was plenty of British interest in the men’s 400m hurdles semi-finals, with Rhys Williams (Adrian Thomas) and Jack Green (June Plews) progressing to the final but Tom Burton (Nick Dakin) just missed out.
Green (June Plews) was third in the first semi-final, posting a season’s best of 48.98 after making up a significant margin with 100m to go to take third spot in a fast heat. It was Green’s second fastest ever time so he made it through as the fastest of two additional qualifiers. Williams was second in semi-final two in a time of 49.22 to go through automatically but Burton, in only his second major senior championships, finished fourth in the third semi in 49.71, therefore did not advance to the final.
There was double joy for the Britons in the women’s 400m semi-finals with both Anyika Onuora (Rana Reider) and Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) qualifing for tomorrow’s 400m final. Onuora led from the off, and after making up the stagger on her opponent in the outside lane within 30 metres, she never looked back, and breezed into the final in 51.84. Ohuruogu similarly ran a controlled race to take second behind France’s Floria Guei, posting a season best of 51.35.
Reigning 400m champion Martyn Rooney (Rana Reider) spoke yesterday about wanting to run low 45 and win his semi-final, and he did absolutely that this evening. Always in control, Rooney had time to look around to see where his competitors were with 50m remaining, and crossed the line in 45.04. Unfortunately, Jarryd Dunn’s (Keith Holt) European individual 400m journey came to an end, despite a solid effort finishing fourth in semi-final three in a time of 46.00.
In the men’s 1500m, Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman) produced the performance of the heats, going through in the fastest time of all three heats, and taking the win in 3:39.64. In contrast, Tom Lancashire (Steve Vernon), sixth in heat one in 3:42.08, and Lee Emanuel fourth in heat two posting 3:42.92, exited the competition at this stage.
There was heartbreak for Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter) and Alison Leonard (Bud Baldaro) as they miss out on a berth in the women’s 800m final. Leonard was so close to securing a top two spot but just missed out in third; her time of 2:02.31 just 0.01 seconds outside the qualifiers spots. Also, despite a trademark solid run from Meadows (Trevor Painter) in the opening 600m, she came up against fast finishing athletes, and stopped the clock at 2:03.13 for sixth place, but she did not progress to the final.