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gb & ni in heaven with eleven 

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Bobby Clay
19 July 2015

No superlatives could quite do Great Britain & Northern Ireland justice as the team equalled their highest ever gold medal tally on the final day of action at the European Athletics Championships in Eskilstuna, Sweden.

Golds for captain Bobby Clay (coach: Peter Mullervy, club: Invicta East Kent), Kyle Langford (George Harrison, Shaftesbury Barnet), Morgan Lake (Eldon Lake, Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow), Adam Hague (Trevor Fox, Sheffield & Dearne), the women’s 4x100m team, women’s 4x400m and a silver for Amy Griffiths (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District) saw GB & NI top the overall medal standings with a total of 11 gold and six silver.

Clay, ranked European number one going into the 1500m, led by example as the ‘pocket rocket’ took the pace out with 800m to go to claim a superb gold medal in 4:17.91. In a close tussle between Griffiths and Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen, it was the gritty Brit who prevailed taking a well-deserved silver medal.

“It’s amazing – I just started jumping up and down when I crossed the line. I felt these champs have been a long time coming, so to be able to pull it out on the day was really special. To have Amy coming in behind was even better,” said Clay, whose teammate Kathryn Gillespie (Amanda Gillespie, Central AC)  finished in fifth place.

I knew I was and when I was given the blue number, I thought that was a bit of pressure but I said to myself to rise to the challenge. I feel I’ve done my duty as team captain and to have done that with Amy was the best feeling ever.” 

The gutsy Griffiths added: “I then overtook the Danish girl (Josephine Thestrup), then it was the German and then I knew I was coming into the finish. I could see her and I thought ‘no this is my medal, you can’t take it away from me.’ I just had to dig deeper and I’m really pleased.” 

Langford completed a male GB & NI 100m, 200m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m clean sweep with the two-lap specialist claiming the title by just one hundredth of a second from past nemesis Konstantin Tolokonnikov. The recently crowned British champion, was pushed into the bronze medal position at the World Youth Championships by the Russian two years ago and was understandably delighted to gain revenge.

The 19 year old, who won in 1:48.99 said: “It feels a lot better (than the World Youths two years ago). I know I had to redeem myself in that sense and not let him (Tolokonnikov, Russia) get away with it twice. It nearly happened again today, but I dipped and got the win so I’m really happy about it.

 “The main thing for me is I train to win championships, I don’t train to run fast, that just comes with it. To win here proves that I’m a good championship racer. Hopefully now I can run a fast time in the Anniversary Games next weekend, which would be a good benchmark for the season.”

The women’s 4x100m made up for the disqualification of the men’s team earlier on today with a gold-medal winning performance. The quartet of Shannon Malone (Richard Sayer, Deeside AAC), Shannon Hylton (John Blackie, Blackheath & Bromley), Charlotte McLennaghan (David Hourd, Notts) and Imani Lansiquot (Joseph Felix, Sutton & District) produced the fourth fastest ever time by a British junior team clocking 44.18.

Malone said: “It (being European Junior champions) sounds surreal, it’s absolutely amazing we can’t stop smiling. I think we knew we had it in us, but I don’t think we were admitting it. We’ve never run such a good relay, all the baton changes were really slick. The heat definitely helped because we learnt from all our mistakes, but it was a case of playing it safe to get through to the final. The heat was a bit messy but I think we trusted each other more and we knew what we were capable of.

“It’s such an amazing feeling. It’s been such a great experience and to finish it with a gold medal is the perfect ending.” 

Lake added a European Junior high jump title to the two World Junior titles she won last year. The heptathlete had two failures at 1.86m, but regrouped to take the gold medal with a clearance of 1.91m.

“It feels really special and because of last year I felt a little pressure coming into the competition today but I competed well and happy with the win. It was really scary going over that third attempt (at 1.86m) - I think I should have had some better efforts in my first two. No-one likes third attempts, but it’s nice to overcome them.”

British Junior pole vault record holder Hague didn’t let his European number one ranking get to him as he vaulted to another GB & NI gold medal. The Yorkshireman cleared 5.50m to secure his place on top of the podium with teammates Charlie Myers (Chris Boundy, Middlesbrough (Mandale)) and Harry Coppell (John Mitchell, Wigan & District) finishing in sixth and ninth place respectively.

A delighted Hague commented: “I feel amazing; I can’t believe this has just happened. I’m over the moon with the height and the medal. I didn’t have the best build up, but I’m so happy I pulled it out on the day.

“(On whether he felt pressure of being the favourite) A bit but that just gave me extra motivation to think that ‘I can do this’ and I’ve shown it. I’m more happy with the medal, the (championship) record was just something else to go for, it’s the gold that’s the main thing.”

The final gold of the day, which matched GB & NI’s best performance in the championships from 1991 came from the women’s 4x400m. The team of Cheriece Hylton (John Blackie, Blackheath & Bromley), Lina Nielsen (Frank Adams, Enfield & Haringey), Lily Beckford (Christine Bowmaker, Shaftesbury Barnet) and Laviai Nielsen (Frank Adams, Enfield & Haringey) took control of the race from start to cross the line in 3:34.36.

Individual 400m gold medallist Laviai Nielsen said: “It was such a massive relief because it was really intimidating in the call room, but we all knew we could win it if we pulled out our best performances. To actually do it is an amazing feeling. The success we’ve had as a team over the past two or three days has really pushed us on because we really wanted to add to that.

“After the 400m individual I saw that Lina was gutted and I said to her we’re going to come back stronger, come back stronger and bring one home for her.” 

Jack Lawrie (John Macdonald, Pitreavie) agonisingly missed out on the medals in the 400m hurdles ending up in fourth place, with Montell Nevers Nevers (Nigel Kesteven, Notts) jumping 15.98m in the triple jump, for an excellent fifth place finish.

Bronwen Owen (Andrew Henderson, Scarborough), Phoebe Law (Richard Holt, Kingston Poly), Grace Baker (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District) were sixth, 14th and 16th respectively in the 5000m, while George Armstrong (Michael Swain, Leeds City) ended his campaign with a 10th place finish in the discus.

In the men’s decathlon, Tim Duckworth (Toby Stevenson, University of Kentucky) finished in 18th place with a score of 7113 and Haran Dunderdale (Sam Bradley, Sheffield & Dearne) came 12th in the 3000m steeplechase.


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

Gold (11) – Ojie Edoburun (100m), Tommy Ramdhan (200m), Laviai Nielsen (400m), Kyle Langford (800m), Josh Kerr (1500m), Bobby Clay (1500m), Alex George (5000m), Morgan Lake (high jump), Adam Hague (pole vault), women’s 4x100m, women’s 4x400m

Silver (6) – Joseph Dewar (100m), Elliott Powell (200m), Shannon Hylton (200m), Cheriece Hylton (400m), Amy Griffiths (1500m), Jacob Fincham-Dukes (long jump)  

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