Briton misses out on medal after brave performance as Germany’s Arthur Abele gets gold, while Matt Hudson-Smith impresses in 400m semi-finals
Tim Duckworth’s bid for a European Championships decathlon medal ultimately fell short in Berlin but the Briton has been left hugely encouraged for the future following his fifth-place finish at the Olympic Stadium.
The 22-year-old NCAA champion, who was born in America and is based there but has a mother from Ipswich and a father from Yorkshire, had led the competition by 70 points going into the final two events – the javelin and 1500m – but could not hold on to a podium place.
Instead the title went to Germany’s Arthur Abele, with whom Duckworth had vied at the top of the standings for much of the competition, who finished with 8431 points.
Russian neutral athlete Ilya Shkurenyov, twice a European bronze medallist, secured silver with a season’s best tally of 8321, while Vitali Zhuk of Belarus notched a personal best 8290 for bronze. Duckworth scored 8160.
Abele took control of proceedings during the javelin competition, which he won thanks to a throw of 68.10m, with Shkurenyov managing 59.13m compared to Duckworth’s 54.78m.
That left the Briton holding on to silver medal position by five points going into the 1500m but the closing discipline is not his strongest and, despite forcing himself to a personal best of 4:58.28, it saw him finish 17th in the race as Abele made sure of gold with 4:30.84 in eighth just ahead of Shkurenyov’s 4:31.38. The German could not hold back his emotions as he burst into tears as his victory was confirmed.
Zhuk, who had begun the evening in fourth but produced 66.19m in the javelin, clocked 4:30.81 in seventh.
“I am tired, very tired,” said Duckworth. “It was a really, really cool experience, it was next level. I have never done anything like that.
“It was a hell of an experience leading it but I don’t feel like it was a great decathlon for me.
“It was a good score but in terms of where I wanted to be, some events were down – the 100m, long jump, hurdles. There was a lot down but a lot of experience gained from it all.”
He added: “It was nice to come to Europe, get some exposure for myself and prove that I am just about there to step up on to this stage, which was the goal here. There was a lot of support for me and I am grateful for that because it was a long, gruelling two days with lots of ups and downs.
“It is an honour to be here at a big one. My goal was to come top five and you can’t be too mad with the score if you are top five.”
Meanwhile, Matthew Hudson-Smith insisted only he can prevent himself from winning the 400m title later this week.
The 23-year-old Briton looked in imperious form when winning the opening semi-final, jogging home with a time of 44.76 and a performance which suggested that Iwan Thomas’s British record of 44.36 – and even the 31-year-old European mark of 44.33 – could be under serious threat in Friday’s final.
“I did what my coach told me: ‘execute’ to 350 then show off, show what you are made of, see where you are,” said the 2014 European silver medallist, who went through 300m in 32.0 before easing down and finished ahead of Belgium’s Jonathan Borlee’s season’s best 44.87. “I did exactly what I came here to do.
“I came here as number one, I came here to prove it and only I can stop myself really.
“Everyone is (dangerous) who steps on the line. All eight lanes are going to be dangerous – they come here and put their focus on me. I just have to execute and the rest will sort itself out.”
Hudson-Smith was the only one of Britain’s quartet of competitors to make it through. Defending European champion Martyn Rooney was sixth in his semi-final with 45.73, while Dwayne Cowan was fifth in semi-final one in 45.45 and Rabah Yousif third in the second race with 45.30.
Norway’s 400m hurdles champion Karsten Warholm was third-quickest in qualifying on the flat thanks to a season’s best 44.91 in the third semi-final.
Turkish world champion Ramil Guliyev is favourite to take the men’s 200m title and won the opening semi-final in 20.33 (+0.3), finishing just ahead of Leon Reid, whose transfer of allegiance to Ireland was only just cleared last week, clocking 20.38.
Defending champion Bruno Hortelano of Spain won the second semi-final in a time of 20.29 (+0.3) ahead of Italian Eseosa Desalu (20.35) and Britain’s Adam Gemili, who went through as a fastest loser with his run of 20.46.
The quickest run of the night went to Alex Wilson of Switzerland, who sprinted to 20.16 (+0.3) ahead of Briton Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake’s 20.35.
Delano Williams had qualified for the semi-finals but withdrew due to a back spasm he suffered following the morning’s heat.
The field events do not always get the attention they deserve but the sizeable Olympic Stadium crowd gave the throws in particular their full attention, especially given that home favourite Robert Harting, whose image has been beamed on to a skyscraper in the heart of the city ahead of and during these championships, was competing in the final event of a discus career which has brought one Olympic, three world and two European titles.
He took the acclaim of the fans following the competition but there was not to be a fairytale ending.
Instead, the gold medal went to world champion Andrius Gudzius of Lithuania thanks to his final-round throw of 68.46m to edge out the 68.23m thrown by Sweden’s world silver medallist Daniel Stahl that had held the lead after round four. Austrian Lukas Weisshaidinger threw 65.14m for bronze. Harting finished sixth with a best of 64.33m.
In the long jump, Miltiadis Tentoglou’s fifth-round season’s best leap of 8.25m (-0.3) was enough to give him a senior European championships gold to the junior title he won last year.
The Greek held off the attentions of Germany’s Fabian Heinle, who also produced a season’s best in leaping a second-round 8.13m (-0.2) to take silver. Ukraine’s European indoor bronze medallist Serhii Nykyforov was third on countback with his third-round 8.13m (+0.1). Britain’s Dan Bramble jumped 7.90m for seventh.
A women’s events report can be found here.