A British one-two in the women’s 400m gets the day off to a strong start for the GB team in Gothenburg
Great Britain had another four medals in the bag at the end of the morning session at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Gothenburg on Sunday.
Following what was a bit of a rollercoaster ride second day of the championships where medals were concerned, the Brits came out strong and determined on day three, with Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child claiming 400m gold and silver respectively in the first track event of the day.
Shakes-Drayton went into the final as favourite, but knew that alone wouldn’t guarantee success. She needed a fast first 200m and she delivered, asserting her dominance and comfortably taking the win in a world-leading time of 50.85.
Speaking afterwards, she said: “I’m over the moon, I’m happy. I said I couldn’t be too complacent, I just wanted to stay out of trouble.
“I hope this will benefit me when it comes to outdoors,” she added.
Child followed her home to claim silver in a Scottish record 51.24 PB, while Sweden’s Moa Hjelmer impressed in front of a home crowd, the European outdoor champion crossing the line in a national record 52.04 for bronze.
A British one-two-three had even seemed possible as Shana Cox slotted in behind Child for a time, but she couldn’t hold her place and eventually finished sixth in 53.15.
The next event on track delivered another medal for GB courtesy of Mukhtar Mohammed in the 800m. It was a gutsy race from Mohammed who crossed in 1:49.60, with a scramble for the line seeing Anis Ananenka take a tumble. An impressive run from Poland’s Adam Kszczot saw him take gold in 1:48.69 to become only the third man ever to successfully retain the title, while Spain’s Kevin Lopez secured silver in 1:49.31.
As in the women’s 400m, the Brits filled half the lanes in the men’s event too and also added to GB’s medal tally. Nigel Levine admitted he was speechless after winning silver in his first ever Euro final with his seasons-best time of 46.21. Pavel Maslak was the clear winner, crossing in a national-record 45.66 for gold, while Russia’s Pavel Trenikhin initially bagged bronze in 46.70, but was later disqualified for lane infringement meaning Volodymyr Burakov of Ukraine was awarded the medal. Britain’s Michael Bingham and Richard Strachan finished fifth and sixth respectively.
Given the amount of preparation Jenny Meadows had been able to put in before the European Indoor Championships, her strong fourth place finish in the 800m proved she is well on the road to recovery. No British woman has ever retained the title and unfortunately Meadows wasn’t able to change that stat, and although later admitting her final placing and time of 2:01.52 had ‘dented her ego’, she added that ultimately she was proud of what she had achieved after an injury-plagued season.
“I feel a bit silly to say I feel disappointed that I came fourth,” she said. “It’s an amazing achievement but I’ve tried to keep my lack of preparation at the back of my head.
“A medal would have been a bonus and I was good enough to get a medal. I’ve let myself down a little bit tactically but I’m fit and healthy and in one piece and it’s a way forward for the summer.”
A seasons-best from Nataliya Lupu of Ukraine saw her take the gold in 2:00.26, while Russia’s Yelena Kotulskava’s time of 2:00.98 secured her silver. Marina Arzamasova from Belarus claimed bronze in 2:01.21.
The women’s 3000m started off as a scrappy affair, with the competitors being called back when Britain’s Lauren Howarth came off worst and took a tumble after a scuffle on the line.
Portugal’s Sara Moreira came out the dominant winner with 8:58.50 for gold, while Corinna Harrer from Germany came second with 9:00.50. Ireland’s double European cross-country champion Fionnuala Britton transferred her success from cross-country to the track to claim bronze in 9:00.54.
Howarth eventually finished sixth in 9:04.04 and although admitting she had hoped to do better, she was encouraged by the knowledge that Mo Farah had placed similarly in his Euro Indoors 3000m debut, adding with a smile that perhaps she too might become a double Olympic champion one day.
Although Britain’s medal success from Sunday’s morning session was all on track, there were also impressive performances in the triple jump and shot put.
Yamile Aldama matched her 13.95m season’s best in the final round to finish sixth in the triple jump, as Olha Saladuha’s first jump of 14.88m was a world lead and national record for the Ukranian and more than enough to earn her gold.
Russia’s Irina Gumenyuk took silver with 14.30m and Simona La Mantia from Italy jumped a seasons-best 14.26m for bronze.
It didn’t seem to be Christina Schwanitz’s day in the shot put to start off with, the German not really asserting any real dominance on her competitors. Until her final throw that was, when she pulled out an impressive put of 19.25m to take the gold ahead of Russia’s Yevgeniya Kolodko (19.04m) and Alena Kopets of Belarus (18.85m).
With finals including the women’s 60m and both men’s and women’s relay events to come later on Sunday, Britain will be looking to add to their growing tally of medals which is currently at six, with Holly Bleasdale’s pole vault gold and James Dasaolu’s 60m silver claimed on Saturday.
In other news, if Saturday’s jump off between Bleasdale and Russia’s Anna Rogowska at the European Indoors wasn’t enough, there was even more pole vault excitement happening over the other side of the pond.
Jenn Suhr set a World indoor pole vault record of 5.02m at the USA Indoor Championships which also just happens to be her ninth American record in six years.
The London 2012 Olympic gold medallist added an impressive 14cm to her indoor PB with the vault at the at the Albuquerque Convention Centre that bettered Yelena Isinbayeva’s mark of 5.01m which was set in Stockholm in February last year.