Britain second on medal table in Belgrade, where home favourite Ivana Spanovic has superb series for long jump gold ahead of British indoor record-breaker Lorraine Ugen
Asha Philip was among the winners on the final day of European Indoor Championships action in Belgrade.
During a session which saw Philip’s fellow Briton Laura Muir complete a winning double by claiming the 3000m title (read report here), Philip ran the 60m race of her life to add a fifth gold to GB’s medal haul.
While Muir’s victory was expected and it was hard to see any other result, the win and the performance from Philip was a surprise.
Highly consistent, having been fifth in 2013 and fourth in the IAAF World Indoor Championships in 2014, she seemed certain to be in the mix for the final but with a season’s best of 7.18, a title seemed unlikely.
However, Philip won her semi-final impressively in 7.20. The final had a few more starting problems, which have affected some of the sprints, but at the second attempt Philip reacted superbly at 0.113 and was quickly into her pick-up. It looked close between her and joint favourite Olesya Povh but it was Philip who powered over the last 20 metres to win easily in a British record 7.06, which is also an European leading time by some margin.
Teenager Ewa Swoboda, who was initially announced as having a big false start in the first running which was then overturned, matched Povh’s PB of 7.10.
The highly-rated German sprinters could only finish fifth, sixth and eighth.
Philip’s biggest scare of the night came not in the race but when the Swiss put a protest in, but that was thrown out.
The winner said: “7.06! The European lead was a bonus and the PB was a bonus. Obviously I came out here for the win and I got that. This competition I’ve not been petrified – I’ve been so calm and had the confidence in me to say ‘I can do it, I will do it’… and I’ve just believed in myself.”
There was a European record for Kevin Mayer who dominated the heptathlon throughout.
The Frenchman won with a score of 6479 points boosted by a 5.40m pole vault at the end of a near four-hour competition.
Spain’s Jorge Urena took silver with 6227 points and Czech Republic’s Adam Helcelet’s 6110 took bronze.
GB team captain Ashley Bryant was in fourth place until the pole vault but then dropped to 10th and after a strong 1000m finished ninth with a near PB 5945. Liam Ramsay was 14th on 5622.
Of lots of great performances over the weekend, Ivana Spanovic’s long jump was one of the best and as she is Serbian, it was definitely the loudest reception.
Already a world leader, she went third all-time indoors and produced the longest indoor jump for 27 years.
Spanovic opened with a no jump but then followed that up with a world-leading 7.16m which she improved to a ground-breaking 7.24m in the third round before 7.17m in the fourth as the crowd roared their approval.
If she was put off by the atmosphere, Britain’s Lorraine Ugen didn’t show it.
She opened with a solid 6.75m and then jumped a huge British record 6.97m in the second round to secure silver.
Germany’s Claudia Salman-Rath, who had opened with a PB 6.84m, pushed her close with a 6.94m fifth and 6.87m sixth jump.
Selina Buchel successfully defended her 800m title but it was very, very close as Britain won their first silver medal of the Championships through a superb run from world fifth-placer Shelayna Oskan-Clarke.
Buchel won in a Swiss record 2:00.38 with Oskan-Clarke smashing her PB with 2:00.39. Had they not clashed on the final lap they would have both probably broken two minutes.
Buchel took the lead with an aggressive start and headed the race at 200m with 28.64. The pace slowed on the second lap as she dropped to a 30.92. The third lap picked up slightly to 30.58 and the Briton looked full of running and tried to pass at the bell but the Swiss held her off and they both lost their balance and slowed.
Oskan-Clarke waited and then attacked in the final straight and was clearly moving quickest but Buchel held her off by the smallest of margins with a desperate dip and completed the last 200 metres in 30.24.
The men’s 800m was a disappointment but saw a very easy victory for Adam Kszczot who won his third European indoor title to go with his two outdoor ones.
The early pace was poor and was just 56.45 at 400m. The race began at the 600m mark in 83.41, and the Pole found a nothing special 25.46 last lap gained him victory. Denmark’s Andreas Bube was second and Spain’s Alvaro de Arriba third.
Poland continued their superb championships with another gold medal in the high jump. Sylwester Bednarek, who failed to make the final last year in the Olympics and Europeans, has been in good form this year, jumping an indoor PB of 2.33m and here a 2.32m clearance gave him the title.
It wasn’t plain sailing though as he took three attempts at 2.27m and two at 2.30m.
At this stage, the ever-consistent Robbie Grabarz was ahead. The Briton, who has bounced back spectacularly from his appendix operation, went clear at 2.23m and then 2.27m and his perfect record continued to 2.30m. He led until Bednarek made 2.32m at his first attempt.
Pavel Seliverstau, who has improved dramatically this year, took bronze with just a 2.27m jump. Allan Smith finished eighth, clearing 2.18m but failing at 2.23m.
The men’s triple jump was a disappointment in terms of distance after Max Hess jumped a world lead and German record of 17.52m in qualifying.
In the final, 20-year-old Hess struggled to regain that form with only one jump of note, a 17.12m in the third round.
The title went to 2008 Olympic champion Nelson Evora, who defended his title at the age of 32 with a 17.20m third round jump.
He is a relative youngster compared to the silver medallist Fabrizio Donato who set a world M40 best of 17.13m.
In the final women’s event, the 4x400m relay, Britain won their 10th medal of the Championships. Eilidh Doyle got them off to a good start with a fast first lap of 24.61 and though she slowed on her second lap, she handed over with a clear lead with a time of 53.13.
The gap closed on the second lap but Philippa Lowe ran sensibly and stayed ahead with a 53.24. Poland came past strongly on the third leg with a sub-52 run from Iga Baumgart, but Mary Iheke kept Britain a clear second.
On the last leg Laviai Nielsen closed right up on Poland’s Justyna Swiety but as Swiety had denied Doyle a place in the 400m final and Nielsen a medal with a strong finish, it was not to be.
Poland made it a relay double as they led all the way to win the men’s race in 3:06.99, the very last event of the Championships, with Belgium chasing them home. The Czech Republic, thanks to a superb leg from Pavel Maslak, took the bronze.
With their successes in the last two events, Poland topped the medal table.