Kilty wins 60m gold and Asher-Smith secures 60m silver in a British record-equalling time, while Belgium team breaks the European men’s 4x400m record on the final day of European Indoor Championships action
The Great Britain & Northern Ireland team finished third on the European Indoor Championships medal table on Sunday as Richard Kilty, Dina Asher-Smith, Chris O’Hare and the women’s 4x400m relay team expanded the medal haul on the final day of action in Prague.
Kilty added European 60m gold to the world title he won in Sopot last winter, clocking a season’s best of 6.51 for a time just 0.02 off his PB set in Poland a year ago.
His team-mate CJ Ujah was disqualified for a false start after what seemed to be a long hold but having done the same himself on his season opener in Glasgow, Kilty knew to keep calm and didn’t make the same mistake again, blasting out the blocks to finish 0.07 ahead of Germany’s Christian Blum. Two German sprinters made the podium, with Julian Reus running 6.60 for bronze.
“This is my second gold medal indoors and now I’m ready to show something outdoors too,” said Kilty.
“Maybe there were some people who thought I was just lucky in Sopot but I am confident and this has confirmed I am in good shape.”
Asher-Smith equalled the British record for 60m silver in a top final won by Netherlands’ heptathlete Dafne Schippers who matched the world lead of 7.05 to gain another European gold having won 100m and 200m titles in Zurich last summer.
World junior 100m champion Asher-Smith is now the fastest ever teenager over the distance, her 7.08 a world age-19 best. Bronze medallist Verena Sailer of Germany also dipped under 7.10 in a race that saw seven of the eight finallists run national records or personal bests.
“The line up was so tight and all the runners are so talented that you need to perform in every single race,” said Asher-Smith. “I am over the moon that I won the silver medal.”
There was a European record-breaking performance by the Belgium team in the men’s 4x400m as the three Borlée brothers combined with Julien Watrin to clock 3:02.87 and beat Poland with a 3:02.97 national record and Czech Republic who also ran a national record of 3:04.09.
Dylan Borlée, who had won individual 400m silver the day before, returned to the track to form part of the Belgium team along with brothers Jonathan and Kevin. The Great Britain team of Conrad Williams, Jamie Bowie, Jarryd Dunn and Rabah Yousif ran 3:08.56 for fifth.
France won a close women’s 4x400m relay while Kirsten McAslan anchored the GB team to silver as less than a second separated the whole field. Behind France’s winning time of 3:31.61, McAslan ran a strong final leg to cross the line in 3:31.79. Kelly Massey had remained cool after receiving a bit of a push on leg one, before handing the baton to individual 400m bronze medallist Seren Bundy-Davies. Laura Maddox then took over before McAslan clocked a 51.8 final 400m. Poland bagged the bronze in 3:31.90.
There was an exciting finish in the men’s 1500m final as Jakub Holusa delighted the home crowds to get the gold in a national record of 3:37.68 ahead of long-time leader Ilham Tanui Ozbilen of Turkey. Ozbilen had pushed the pace but couldn’t respond when Holusa attacked off the final bend and crossed the line in 3:37.74 for silver. O’Hare, who had been spiked on his ankle in the opening stages, ran a well-judged race to clock 3:38.96 and bag an indoor bronze to go with his European outdoor medal of the same colour. O’Hare’s British team-mate Charlie Grice ran a PB of 3:39.43 for fifth behind Germany’s Homiyu Tesfaye as Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen, who the day before had claimed 3000m bronze in a national record time, finished sixth.
Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan added European indoor 1500m gold to the European outdoor title she claimed in Zurich last summer, clocking 4:09.04 after a solo run in a straight final.
Hassan made her intentions clear from the start. She built a lead of six seconds on the rest of the field but couldn’t maintain it and eventually finished a second and a half clear of Poland’s Angelika Cichocka who adds this silver to her world indoor 800m medal of the same colour claimed in Sopot last winter. Italy’s Federica del Buono clocked 4:11.61 for bronze as Britain’s Rosie Clarke ran 4:16.49 for sixth on her GB debut.
Jenny Meadows had scraped through to the 800m final, illness in the run-up to the event leading to an under-par semi-final performance on Saturday, but the 2011 European Indoor champion made it through after the second-placed athlete in her semi-final stepped off the track. However, with her condition having worsened overnight, Meadows later withdrew.
Switzerland’s Selina Büchel went on to take the title in 2:01.95 ahead of Russia’s Yekaterina Poistogova and Ukraine’s Nataliya Lupu.
When announcing her withdrawal from the event, Meadows had said: “I’m really disappointed not to be running today. I went to bed really hopeful that I could compete and knowing that anything can happen in an indoor final.
“I’ve deteriorated further overnight and following discussions with medical staff and my coach, this could be one push too far for myself.
“I would have given everything I have got in me over those four laps but I am serious about doing well in the outdoor season this year and that has to be the bigger picture.”
Meadows, who was upgraded to European Indoor Championships gold four years ago when original winner Yevgeniya Zinurova of Russia was later disqualified for doping, has been denied a medal or a higher podium place a total of seven times by athletes who later failed drugs tests or were implicated in doping scandals. After Sunday’s 800m final, she tweeted: “Gutted not to have taken my opportunity in the 800m final today but glad to see an athlete who hasn’t served a doping ban or anyone implicated to have doped win! Buchel ran a gutsy race! A fine champion!”
The men’s 800m title was claimed by Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski in 1:46.67 as Ireland’s Mark English came through strongly for the silver in 1:47.20 ahead of Thijmen Kupers of Netherlands who clocked 1:47.25. Scottish runner Guy Learmonth ran 1:47.84 in sixth.
Russia’s Ilya Shkurenyov claimed heptathlon gold, with wins in the long jump, high jump and pole vault helping him on his way to a world-leading 6353 points. Germany’s Arthur Abele, who had won the 60m, shot put and 60m hurdles and claimed the runner-up spot in the final event – the 1000m – secured silver with a personal best of 6279 points to come close to the national record. Netherlands’ defending champion Eelco Sintnicolaas again made the podium but this time bagged the bronze, second place in the pole vault and a third place finish in the 1000m helping him to 6185 points.
There was another Russian victory in the men’s high jump as Daniil Tsyplakov got the gold, with Italy’s Silvano Chesani and Adonios Mastoras of Greece sharing the silver. All three athletes cleared the winning height of 2.31m, Tsyplakov taking the title on countback. Anzhelika Sidorova also gained gold for Russia, clearing 4.80m in the women’s pole vault to beat Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece with 4.75m and Angelica Bengtsson with a 4.70m Swedish record.
Another adding to Russia’s haul was world indoor champion Yekaterina Koneva in the triple jump as she leapt a world-leading 14.69m. Silver went to Bulgaria’s Gabriela Petrova who managed a best of 14.52m and bronze to Hanna Knyazyeva of Israel with a 14.49m national record.
Medal table top five
Russia 6 gold 2 silver 0 bronze
France 3 gold 1 silver 1 bronze
GB & NI 2 gold 4 silver 3 bronze
Czech Republic 2 gold 1 silver 3 bronze
Netherlands 2 gold 0 silver 3 bronze
» See the next issue of Athletics Weekly magazine, out March 12, for in-depth coverage from the championships