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gb & ni caught in medal storm in eskilstuna 

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Josh Kerr
18 July 2015

Great Britain & Northern Ireland claimed three gold and two silver medals on the penultimate day of the European Athletics Junior Championships to take the team top of the medal table in Eskilstuna, Sweden.

It was a sensational 1500m, 5000m double for GB & NI, with Josh Kerr (Mark Pollard, Edinburgh) Alex George (Paul de-Camps, Gloucester) showing maturity beyond their years to claim their respective European Junior title. Kerr, who saw teammate Robbie Fitzgibbon (Jon Bigg, Brighton Phoenix) take up much of the front running, stormed through in the closing stages to cross the line in jubilant fashion in 3:49.62, with Fitzgibbon finishing an admirable sixth.

Kerr said: “It feels so good – I’ve been looking forward to this moment for a long time. The goal for these championships before it got close was just to get to the finals here and get as close as I could to the medals. Coming into this race I felt so strong and watching the heats back from Thursday and there wasn’t much in it. It was all about the racing and I had the right head on today and was able to come through.

Like Kerr, George also put on a late show, as the 1500m specialist used his race tactics to outwit a field, which included European Junior cross country champion Yemaneberhan Crippa. At the bell, the America-based athlete went out in front before falling back into the pack with 150m to go. Just when thoughts were turning to George moving further down the field, the 19 year old used his turn of pace to bypass his competition and win GB & NI’s third gold of the day.

An ecstatic George, who clocked 14:34.42 for victory said afterwards: “I felt really good - it was a slow race and I'm a 1500m runner, so I thought I'm going to sit in and try and stay there with 400m to go. I took the lead because I wanted a clean run and eased up on the back straight because I didn't want to go too hard in the wind.

“I sat in followed them round and 120m off the bend is my main training session to prepare me for races. I just left a couple of gears and I knew I had it. It's crazy, it hasn't sunk in yet. I'm running around so happy with my parents and coach here,” added George, whose teammates Gus Cockle (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District) and Chris Olley (Mark Hookway, Tonbridge) came in seventh and 11th place.

After the GB & NI one-two in the men’s 100m yesterday, it was the same scenario in the 200m as Tommy Ramdhan (Freckleton, Shaftesbury Barnet) claimed gold ahead of teammates Elliot Powell (Glenys Morton, Leicester) and Freddie Owsley (Bristol & West) in sixth. Ramdhan ran a composed race in strong winds to claim the European Junior title in 20.57 (+4.1) and was understandably delighted after his performance.

“I’m speechless – I finished the race and didn’t know what to do. I ran straight to my mum and dad, I can’t believe it. I did (think he could win) – I’ve raced Elliott five or six times and he’s not beaten me. On paper he was a lot quicker than me, so I knew I could beat him. I wasn’t bothered about the time or the wind, I just wanted to go out there and win and that’s what I did,” commented Ramdhan, the newly crowned European Junior 200m champion.

“It’s going to feel amazing (being on the podium), it’s going to be emotional as well. I’ve been through a lot this year, so I can’t wait to be on the podium and hear the national anthem go. It’s a big credit to my mum and dad, coach and physios and everyone else that’s helped me.” 

Powell, who was disappointed not to claim top spot, was gracious in finishing behind his teammate: “I’m happy with that, obviously mixed emotions, but deep down you always want to come away with a win. You always come here and want that (victory), but I’m happy it’s Tommy, another Brit getting the gold.”

24 hours after seeing her sister Cheriece come second in the 400m, Shannon Hylton (John Blackie, Blackheath & Bromley) made it two silver medals for the family, as the twin finished behind Gina Luckenkemper in 22.73 (+2.6).

“I’m happy I got a medal – my start could have been better. My reaction was good, but my drive phase wasn’t as good as my semi.

“We (her and Cheriece) woke up this morning and she said to me we can both win medals at these championships and we did it. We know what we’re capable of and we know if we get our performances right, we could come away with a medal.” 

Callum Wilkinson (Mick Graham, Enfield & Haringey) set a new British junior track record in the 10,000m race walk on his way to an impressive seventh place finish in Eskilstuna, Sweden.  The 18 year old took nearly a minute and a half off his personal best to finish in 41:34.63 and surpass the previous best junior mark of 41:52.13 set by Darrell Stone in 1987.

In the women’s 800m it was fourth and fifth place for Molly Long (John Knowles, Bristol & West) and Mhairi Hendry (Andy Young, Victoria Park City of Glasgow), which represented a good championships for the duo, who were ranked fourth and 10th respectively in the European standings.    

“The winds were really strong and if I had stayed with them (the front three), I would have been protected but I was on my own. I was closing down quickly on the girl in third (Anita Hinriksdottir) and maybe if I had kicked a little bit sooner I may have got her. It’s my first major championships representing GB, so I was really pleased to get in the final.”

Adele Nicoll (Vladimir Zinchenko, Birchfield Harriers), who threw a new lifetime best of 15.46m in the qualification of the shot put added another nine centimetres in the final to finish eighth. Harry Hughes (Mike McNeill, West Suffolk), who also set a personal best in qualifyinh, finished his campaign in Sweden with a 11th place finish in the men’s javelin with a best throw of 69.92m. 

With three British athletes in the 800m semi-finals, only Kyle Langford (George Harrison, Shaftesbury Barnet) made it through to tomorrow’s final. The recently crowned British champion produced a dominant performance to book his place as the fastest qualifier in 1:49.75, but Spencer Thomas (Jon Bigg, Brighton Phoenix) and Daniel Rowden (Richard Thurston, Woodford Green & Essex Ladies) missed out on progressing.

Halfway through the decathlon, Tim Duckworth (Toby Stevenson, University of Kentucky) finished day one in 17th place scoring a total of 3773 points, while Montel Nevers (Nigel Kesteven, Notts) and George Armstrong (Michael Swain, Leeds City), secured their places in the triple jump and discus final respectively.

GB & NI medal tally at the European Athletics Junior Championships in Eskilstuna, Sweden:

Gold (5) – Ojie Edoburun (100m), Tommy Ramdhan (200m), Laviai Nielsen (400m), Josh Kerr (1500m), Alex George (5000m)

Silver (5) – Joseph Dewar (100m), Elliott Powell (200m), Shannon Hylton (200m), Cheriece Hylton (400m), Jacob Fincham-Dukes (long jump)  

For full results from the European Athletics Junior Championships visit: www.european-athletics.org