Another batch of victories ensured the British team had a “super Sunday” in Sweden and put them top of the final medals table
Gold medals for Bobby Clay (1500m), Kyle Langford (800m), Morgan Lake (high jump), Adam Hague (pole vault) and both women’s relay teams on the final day in Eskilstuna ensured Britain equalled its highest ever tally of golds at the European Athletics Junior Championships. Not all that glittered was gold for Britain, though, as Amy Griffiths also followed Clay for silver.
The total of 11 gold medals over the four days equalled GB’s total from Thessaloniki in 1991. Together with the six silvers, the overall haul was two short of the tally from the 2013 edition.
Lake duly collected another title to add to her world junior golds in heptathlon and high jump last year but, after two failures at her opening height in qualifying, she had another nervous moment in the final when she had two misses at 1.86m when in a bronze medal position.
However, the 18-year-old recovered with a third-time clearance and a 1.89m gave her the gold. She then cleared 1.91m on her second try and had three unsuccessful attempts at improving her own UK junior mark by one centimetre to 1.95m.
She will now turn her attention to the heptathlon, for which she is expected to be selected at the World Championships in Beijing next month.
Lake said: “It was really scary going over that third attempt (at 1.86m). I think I should have had some better efforts in my first two. No one likes third attempts, but it’s nice to overcome them.”
She had been careful to come in at lower than the 1.79m which had caused her problems in qualifying.
“I started at 1.75m, because I knew that was a height I could definitely clear and I’d done much higher in practice,” she said, “I knew it would ease me into the competition a bit better than qualifying.”
Clay’s victory in the 1500m came via a confident display of front-running tactics. Going into the final as the No.1 on paper, the Kent athlete did not want to hang around any more after the slow opening lap of 75 seconds. With two laps to go, she chose to move out of potential trouble and on to the shoulder of the leader, before kicking away at the halfway point of the race.
The destination of the gold was not in doubt but, behind her, Griffiths secured silver by four tenths of a second. Another Briton, Kathryn Gillespie, was fifth.
Clay, who was fourth in the World Youth Championships two years ago, seemed to relish racing as pre-competition favourite. Britain’s joint team captain said: “I knew I was [favourite] and when I was given the blue number (as No.1), I thought that was a bit of pressure but I said to myself to rise to the challenge. If I’m feeling the pressure than the other girls must be feeling a slight bit of intimidation so I thought I may as well work with that.”
By contrast to Clay, Langford needed a perfectly timed race to snatch gold with a dip finish, crossing the line one hundredth in front of Russia’s Konstantin Tolokonnikov.
The British senior champion had attempted to get to the front on the back straight of the final lap, but was held off around the bend and drifted back slightly. However, another burst took him into the lead and he needed a good dip to hold off the faster-finishing Russian.
Langford had lost out on the silver medal to Tolokonnikov two years ago at the World Youth Championships but made no mistake this time, stopping the clock on 1:48.99 to become the first Brit to win the 800m at these championships since Curtis Robb in 1991.
Thinking back to 2013, he said: “I know I had to redeem myself in that sense and not let him get away with it twice. It nearly happened again today, but I dipped and got the win so I’m really happy about it.”
Langford’s win meant Britain won every individual running event on the flat apart from the 400m and 10,000m.
While Britain dominated the men’s running events, there was success in the field too as Hague cleared 5.45m to win the pole vault.
After failing once at his opening height of 5.20m, he went clear at 5.30m. The next height of 5.35m sorted out the field as only Hague (first time) and Finland’s Niko Koskinen (third time) succeeded. As Hague continued with first-time clearances at 5.40m, 5.45m and 5.50m, the Finn had a failure at each height.
Hague then had three failures as he tried to beat his own UK junior record with 5.61m, which would also have been a championship record.
He had not had a perfect season as his marks of 4.90m and 5.05m led to third and seventh at two national championships at under-20 and senior level respectively.
He said: “I didn’t have the best build-up, but I’m so happy I pulled it out on the day. I felt good since qualifying, so I knew I was going to do good, but I wasn’t sure what medal I would get.”
Britain’s Charlie Myers set a PB of 5.25m for sixth, but Harry Coppell, who has jumped 5.42m this year, was ninth with 5.20m.
The GB women’s sprint relay quartet of Shannon Malone, Shannon Hylton, Charlotte McLennaghan and Imani Lansiquot combined to clock 44.18.
Their chances were boosted when Germany, who had the the fastest times in the world this year, messed up their second changeover and failed to finish, leaving Lansiquot to cross the line 1.1 seconds in front of runner-up Poland. France were third with 45.35.
For Hylton, it was a second medal of the championships following her silver in the 200m, while McLennaghan and Lansiquot had missed out on medals in the 200m and 100m respectively.
Malone, who was coming into the event fresh, said: “We’ve never run such a good relay. All the baton changes were really slick. The heat definitely helped because we learnt from all our mistakes, but it was a case of playing it safe to get through to the final. The heat was a bit messy but I think we trusted each other more and we knew what we were capable of.”
Their 4x400m counterparts took an unexpected gold too. Individual silver medallist Cheriece Hylton – twin sister of Shannon – took them into the lead on the opening leg. Lina Nielsen then took over and handed on to Lily Beckford, who kept them ahead of the chasing Italians. Then Laviai Nielsen brought them home in 3:34.36 and after Friday’s 400m win it was twin gold medals for the anchor-running twin.
Laviai said: “It was such a massive relief because it was really intimidating in the call room, but we all knew we could win it if we pulled out our best performances. To actually do it is an amazing feeling. The success we’ve had over the past two or three days has really pushed us on because we really wanted to add to that.”
Earlier, Britain’s men’s 4x100m relay team were disqualified in round one as Joseph Dewar ran out of his lane on the opening bend. Followed by Elliot Powell, Reuben Arthur and Tommy Ramdhan, the quartet finished just finished ahead of eventual winners Sweden.
It was the only gold of the championships for the home nation. Their 39.73 was a national junior record and five hundredths outside Great Britain’s world-leading time for 2015.
Nazim Babayev of Azerbaijan set a championship record, national junior record and world junior lead when he leapeed 17.04m in the triple jump.
The second-round effort was one of the best performances of the four-day meeting and put him more than half a metre clear of his nearest challenger. Britain’s Montel Nevers was fifth with a PB 15.98m – just 12 centimetres short of a distance that would have given him a medal.
Poland’s Bartlomiej Stoj prevailed in a discus competition where the championships record fell twice.
Croatia’s Martin Markovic had gone into the competition as thee European No.1 and his third-round 66.66m added more than a metre to the meeting best. However, Stoj responded 68.02m in the fourth round and held on to gold despite Markovic improving to 67.11m. It puts Stoj second on the all-time list with the 1.75kg implement that has become standard for juniors since the turn of the century.
Germany’s Alina Reh added the 5000m gold to the 3000m version she won earlier in the week, running away from Denmark’s Anna Moller over the last 400m to clock 16:02.01.
Bronwen Owen was the best of the Brits in sixth, within 20 seconds of her PB in 16:40.82. Pheobe Law was 14th with 17:08.98, two places ahead of Grace Baker, who was second fastest of the entries but was more than a minute outside her PB with 17:25.92.
Norway’s Karsten Warholm finished the weekend with two silver medals as 24 hours after winning silver in the individual 400m he was runner-up to Czech Republic’s Jan Dolezal in the decathlon.
Warholm led overnight, but his decision to line up over 400m individually may not have been responsible for his defeat. The Norwegian ran 46.50 in the individual, but was more than two seconds slower two hours later in the decathlon. That said, the difference in terms of points between the two times was 133, whereas Dolezal’s 7929 put him 165 points clear.
Both set points PBs – in the case of Dolezal by 46 points – and the winner was particularly impressive in the discus with 54.75m.
French junior record-holder and European No.1 Victor Coroller came through with a late burst in the 400m hurdles to win easily in 50.53. Britain’s Jack Lawrie, who made the early running, was fourth with 52.09.
Belgium’s Nenah De Coninck set a PB of 57.85 to win the women’s 400m hurdles, crossing the line just three hundredths in front of Netherlands’ Inge Drost.
In the men’s 3000m steeplechase, Yohannes Chiappinelli of Italy took an easy victory, crossing the line more than six seconds clear in 8:47.58. Britain’s Haran Dunderdale was 12th with 9:15.30.
Romania’s Florentina Marincu was just two centimetres below the championship record when winning the long jump with 6.78m.
Maria Andrejczyk of Poland won the javelin with a PB 59.73 in the fourth round. Latvian silver medallist Anete Kocina saved her best for last with 58.88m with the antepenultimate throw of the competition.
The final race of the championships was the men’s 4x400m, won by Russia in 3:08.35.
GB medal haul in Eskilstuna
Gold: Ojie Edoborun (100m), Tommy Ramdhan (200m), Kyle Langford (800m), Josh Kerr (1500m), Alex George (5000m), Adam Hague (pole vault), Laviai Nielsen (400m), Bobby Clay (1500m), women’s 4x100m, women’s 4x400m, Morgan Lake (high jump)
Silver: Joseph Dewar (100m), Elliot Powell (200m), Shannon Hylton (200m), Jacob Fincham-Dukes (long jump), Cheriece Hylton (400m), Amy Griffiths (1500m)