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five more medals for gb

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Helen Clitheroe

06 March 2011

The Aviva GB&NI team celebrated the final day of competition at the European Indoor Championships with five medals- four silver and one gold- bringing their total tally to eight, leaving them in fourth place overall.

Team Captain Helen Clitheroe (coach: John Nuttall) won gold with an outstanding 3000m performance to kick off the proceedings. The 3000m British steeple chase record holder demonstrated her wealth of experience with an incredibly determined run-out, despite early challenges from Dolores Checa (ESP) and later Layes Abdullayeva (AZE).

Russian Olesya Syreva got the better of her with two laps to go but the brief switch in leader only fuelled Clitheroe further and within 300m she had taken charge again. She powered home with everything she had and was rewarded with gold in 8:56.66.

“I am so happy that is a dream come true. You all know how long I've been trying to get on the podium. I've had a really good batch of training in Kenya and I'm believing in myself. I kept believing.”

Close friend and roommate Jenny Meadows (coach: Trevor Painter) immediately followed in the 800m final along with Marilyn Okoro (coach: Ayo Falola). Meadows added silver to her increasing collection of international medals with 2:00.50 but missed out on the gold she craved due to Russian advancements on the home straight.  Okoro ran a seasons best time of 2:02.46 and finished in fifth place with 2:02.46.

“I have real mixed feelings, it’s a bit of both really. I’m disappointed with the 800m. I felt amazing and like I could run a couple of seconds faster than that so I took the decision last night that I’d take the race from the front. On that last lap I tensed up a bit, maybe I felt the pressure. But then I couldn’t think about my disappointment because the relay was the perfect opportunity to get back out there and do something and it was fantastic, really great by the girls.”

Dwain Chambers won silver in the 60m, stopping the clock on a seasons best 6.54 but failing to re-enact the victory dash made in Turin two years ago. He was outrun not by favourite Christophe Lemaitre (FRA), who finished third, but Portuguese Francis Obikwelu.

“I thought I'd got that I really thought I'd got it. Last year was hard for me really hard but it's 1-1 between Lamaitre but we were both beaten by a fantastic athlete. I said let's go for it what will happen will happen. It was tense in the call room no-one was talking but I just used my experience. I'm off to Disney now to celebrate with our team.”

Nigel Levine (coach: Simon Duberley) started proceedings in the men’s 4 x 400m completing the first lap in second place and handing over to Nick Leavey (coach: Simon Duberley), who held that position despite being pushed by the Russian. Leavey even challenged the German frontrunner on the final bend of his lap.

Just before Leavey was due to change hands with Richard Strachan (coach: Linford Christie) there was a flurry of activity with the French came out of nowhere and Russians advancing which demoted GB to fourth. Strachan held out well, managing to sustain second by the line but the French were not done.

On the anchor leg, run by Richard Buck (coach: Steve Fudge), Germany, Russia, GB and France were all in contention but it was France who came through on the home straight to win, leaving GB in second.

Nigel Levine said: “I was disappointed after the individual, but I rested up and came back strong. I really believed we could win that.

Leavey said: “I have had a really good time and I feel so privileged to be part of this team. I think I made some silly mistakes but we do have to be happy with that.“

Strachan added: “I am pleased with the medal but not the fact that it’s silver. If we ran that again we could win it, we all made mistakes. I want to say a big thank you to Conrad Williams and Luke Lennon-Ford we’re a team of six and they are fantastic teammates. Whichever six of us went out there we would have brought home a medal. We’re a strong team. “

Buck concluded: “That was nearly one of the best races ever. 2nd in Europe is not what we wanted, it was messy, but that’s indoor running. I think we’d all change something if we ran that again. But on the plus side we’re all in brilliant shape going into the summer and we’re a strong team getting stronger.” 

Kelly Sotherton (coach: Aston Moore) started things for the female quartet, getting a good start and handing over safely to Lee McConnell. The Scott did well to move up to second place and exchange with Marilyn Okoro (coach: Ayo Falola).

Okoro let out her fifth place 800m individual frustration on the track, overtaking France on the final bend as a waiting Jenny Meadows (coach: Trevor Painter)  came into sight. Given the best possible start by her teammate, Meadows ran her heart out to bring the team home in second place for a silver medal.

“The Russians were always going to be difficult to beat,” explained Lee McConnell.

“I didn’t do myself justice, I’m learning 400m is a dangerous indoors! I skipped, tripped and was pushed, it was a comedy of errors,” added Sotherton, “but we are pleased with silver.”

On her senior International debut Jodie Williams (coach: Mike McFarlane) equalled her personal best of 7.21 in the final of the 60m, a great achievement for the 17 year old who has a three junior International titles to her name. She finished in fourth place, just out of contention but leaves the competition having gained valuable experience and proved she can mix with the best in Europe.

“It’s frustrating but I was happy to be in that race with the big names who are running big times. If someone would have said you would get into the final and run a personal best I would have taken that! It’s been an amazing experience, I think I’ve come a long way as an athlete.

“It’s been great being part of the senior team, everyone has been lovely and welcoming.”

Andrew Osagie (coach: Craig Winrow) suffered bitter disappointment in the 800m final ending his race in fourth place with a time of 1:48.50.  Despite learning from his first round error, putting out an inspired performance in the semi’s and going into the final confident and composed, he couldn’t translate into a medal worthy performance when it mattered. 

“The 800m indoors gets physical but I put myself in semi the right position and kept coming round. Better guys beat me. It was my first international final so I can draw lots of positives but the dream hasn't come true yet. I wanted to race for gold I gave it everything.”

For results and competition information visit:http://www.paris-2011.com/