20th August 2014

Gb & Ni Top Medal Table At European Championships

Five gold medals on the final day of competition ensured Great Britain & Northern Ireland topped the medal table with a British record of 23 medals at the 2014 European Athletics Championships.

The GB & NI women’s 4x100m team ensured that the championships ended to the tune of God Save the Queen as they stood on the top step of the podium to collect their gold medals. It wasn’t just gold though, as Asha Philip, Ashleigh Nelson, Jodie Williams and Desiree Henry tore up the track to run a time of 42.24 and smash the long standing British record. Afterwards, Philip said:

“It’s amazing – we’ve been trying for the national record all year – every time we’ve stepped on the track together as a 4×1 team we’ve aimed for that record – and the fact that we did it here at an international champs, I’m so proud of these girls out here and those back at the camp – they performed so well there is nothing more to say apart from I’m so happy.”

Just moments before, the men’s 4x100m team put together three slick changes to win their first championships since 2006. Just as in the heats, James Ellington, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and Richard Kilty combined superbly to hand over to individual 200m champion Adam Gemili neck and neck with Germany, with Gemili pulling away to cross the line arms aloft.

Mo Farah has made a habit of becoming a double champion and he did it again in Zurich as he added 5,000m gold to the 10,000m title he won earlier in the week. Just as in the 10,000m he was tracked closely by Andy Vernon who followed him home in third place to add 5,000m bronze to his 10,000m silver.

Farah controlled the race from the front, setting a slow pace before it really got going in the closing stages as the double Olympic and world champion running 1:50.67 for the last 800m to hold off Azerbaijan’s Hayle Ibrahimov and cross the line in 14:05.82 with Vernon coming home in 14:09.48.

In the men’s 4x400m final, it came down to Martyn Rooney versus Krasnov of Russia on the anchor leg to determine who would win gold, a battle that individual champion Rooney was never going to lose. Led off by Conrad Williams, who put the team into the lead, Matthew Hudson-Smith and Michael Bingham both ran good legs to leave Rooney, running the anchor leg, to bring the team home to glory.

GB & NI’s fifth and final gold medal of the final day and the championships came in the long jump as the Olympic and Commonwealth champion Greg Rutherford leaped to a best distance of 8.29m in the fourth round to take the victory by a margin of 14cm.

Jo Pavey set the tone for the Championships as she stormed to the 10,000m gold on the opening night. The 40 year old and mother of two rolled back the years as she was catapulted into the spotlight after her heroics on the Zurich track.

Britain dominated the male sprints as James Dasaolu won the 100m and Adam Gemili took the gold in the 200m. The victories represented their first major individual titles and symbolised a breakthrough for these talented sprinters. Harry Aikines-Aryeetey was delighted to win the bronze in the 100m. Jodie Williams matched her silver medal in the 200m from the Commonwealth Games, this time breaking her lifetime best to record a time of 22.46 behind world leader, Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands. Ashleigh Nelson grabbed a surprise 100m bronze to add to GB & NI’s record breaking medal tally.

Martyn Rooney was back to his best as he won the men’s 400m title in 44.71, his first individual major title. He was pushed hard by the young star in the team, Matthew Hudson-Smith, who at 19 years-old claimed the silver medal.

Tiffany Porter secured her first major championship gold medal as she defeated the Frenchwoman, Cindy Billaud in the 100m hurdles. After securing silver at the Commonwealth Games a couple of weeks before, it was the perfect end to the summer for Porter. William Sharman clipped a couple of hurdles on the way to a silver medal in the men’s equivalent, but he did set a lifetime best in the semi-final of 13.16.

The middle distance women did not disappoint as brave running earned them more senior medals. Lynsey Sharp led from the front only to be overhauled by the Belarusian, Maryna Arzamasova into second down the home straight, but still recorded a massive personal best of 1:58.80. This was a huge improvement on her previous best and added to her silver in the 800m for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games. Laura Weightman also produced a gutsy performance as she tried to chase down Sifan Hassan and Abeba Aregawi in the 1500m, the toughest opponents in the field. The Morpeth athlete opened up a gap on the final lap and held on to win the bronze medal.

In an extremely messy men’s 1500m final, which after passing 800m in 2.10 saw countless fallers, Chris O’Hare didn’t give up, gritting his teeth all the way down the home straight to bag bronze.

In an incredible women’s 4x400m final that saw the first three teams separated by just 0.07 of a second, Margaret Adeoye brought the GB & NI team home to bronze. Eilidh Child, fresh from her gold medal in the 400m hurdles the day before, added strength to the team along with Kelly Massey and Shana Cox to make up the medal-winning quartet.

Reflecting on the team’s best championships ever, Performance Director Neil Black said:

“It’s great to see athletes performing well and converting. A large percentage of athletes with a genuine medal prospect converted and we all saw them being competitive and confident. There were some very impressive performances and I’m just chuffed.”

Many of the leading British athletes will be back in action at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix on Sunday. A handful of tickets are still available here: http://www.britishathletics.org.uk/british-athletics-series/sainsburys-birmingham-grand-prix/