Metric mile medals from Laura Muir and Weightman while Dina Asher-Smith anchors team to sprint relay title as she wins third European gold
On a superb night for British athletes, the UK women’s team won two golds, a silver and a bronze medal in Berlin.
Dina Asher-Smith won her third gold medal of the 2018 European Championships in the 4x100m with a truly sensational anchor leg.
She became the first woman to win three golds at a single championships since Katrin Krabbe in 1990, to match Christophe Lemaitre’s feat among the men.
While Britain’s first three runners ran well – Asha Philip, Imani-Lara Lansiquot and Bianca Williams – they were a close fourth when the 100m and 200m champion got the baton.
However, Asher-Smith was a different class and she shot past her rivals, the last of which was the Netherlands, and she won by two metres.
The time was a sensational world lead – her third of the championships – and the mark of 41.88 was GB’s fourth quickest ever.
It was the fastest time in the championships since 1990 when East Germany won in 41.68.
Netherlands were second in 42.15 and they just held off Germany (42.23) and Switzerland (42.30).
There seemed little doubt Britain would win if they got the baton round as in the heats, with a team that included Daryll Neita instead of Asher-Smith, and they won easily in an European lead 42.19.
Ireland were ninth fastest overall in qualifying to miss the final by a place with an Irish record 43.80.
Front-running Muir takes 1500m as Weightman earns bronze
Laura Muir won the 1500m with a brave piece of front-running. After the race looked like it might be slow, Laura Weightman was ahead through 300m in 52.83 and 400m in 69.54 but at 500m Muir shot ahead and accelerated.
She passed 700m in 1:57.12 and carried on the quick pace through 800m in 2:12.31, that second 400m taking just 62.78 seconds.
At this stage only Weightman was within 10 metres and there was a similar gap to third led by Marta Pen of Portugal. Through the bell in 2:59.29, the gap actually opened a little more as she passed 1200m in 3:14.20. That third lap had been a vicious 61.89.
The race seemed over as Muir was holding her form well but Weightman was visibly struggling and with 200m to go Sofia Ennaoui and Ciara Mageean were closing fast.
The Moroccan-born Pole passed Weightman and then began closing on Muir who was finding it hard to hold the pace. But Muir had done enough of the hard work and she gained her first major 1500m/mile win of the season with five metres to spare and with a time of 4:02.32, which was exceptional given the early pace.
Her last lap was a tough 63.0 seconds but her last three laps were around 3:09 which is 3:56 pace for the full distance.
Muir said: “I just knew there were a few girls in there who had a good kick, so the longer I left it in the race the more dangerous it would be. I wanted to make it a true 1500m race, not an 800m race. That’s why I took it on further out.
“I just had to trust my pacing to judge it right, but I did and I’m really happy. It’s one thing being fast on paper, but in 1500m there are so many different ways to win] so to come here and deliver gold is great. I think it ranks at the top. I delivered well indoors, but to deliver outdoors and for it to be gold when you’re under quite a lot of pressure is a big achievement for me.”
Ennaoui, sixth in 2016 but clearly an improved runner this year, was around five metres back at the finish in 4:03.08.
At one stage Weightman looked like she would be denied a medal for her brave run chasing Muir. But although 2016 bronze medallist Mageean almost got to her shoulder along the finishing straight, Weightman fought again and went away to match her third place from 2014 with a time of 4:03.75.
Weightman said: “It’s been a bronze year for me. To step away from the Commonwealth Games 5000m and the 1500m here at the European Championships, I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved.
“Tonight that was a really brave and strong race I ran. I’m not one to sit back and go for silver or bronze. I’m slightly disappointed that Sofia caught me in that last 200m – I went hard and maybe paid the price for that, but I’m pleased with how I raced. I wanted to be brave and go with it – I’ve run so hard this year and know I’m in good shape.”
Mageean was fourth in 4:04.63 with Czech Republic’s Simpona Vrzalova a distant fifth.
» Coverage of the women’s 5000m, hammer and 3000m steeplechase from the final night in Berlin can be found here
» Results can be found here. See the August 16 issue of AW magazine for full coverage from Berlin