The British team added two bronze medals to the tally on the penultimate day of the European Championships in Amsterdam, with Steph Twell (coach: Mick Woods) and Julian Reid (Aston Moore) reaching the podium in the women’s 5000m and men’s triple jump respectively.
One of the gutsiest races of the championships came from Twell who won bronze in the women’s 5000m after a strong all-round performance. The runaway leader, Turkey’s Yasemin Can, could not be caught but Twell along with a group of five or six, battled hard from two-thirds of the race after a slow start. As the pace went up and down, the Scottish athlete maintained her position in third place but accelerated in the final lap, going passed Sweden’s Meraf Bahta at one stage. However, ultimately, she sprinted for the line to confirm third spot in a time of 15:20.70.
The Aldershot, Farnham and District athlete spoke afterwards: “It is fantastic, absolutely unreal. I knew I had to go for any colour of medal and I just had to run right through to the line. It was so nerve-wracking going around; I was just thinking ‘is it going to be silver or bronze’. I wondered if I could stay with (Yasemin) Can, but she dropped the pace so I just held onto my hat and that was the experience coming out.
“You can doubt yourself sometimes and I have done that in the past, but now I have learnt how to cope with doubts, and my inner strength is showing. I wanted this – I have been part of the sport since a young age, so I’m super happy with that.”
There were also fine performances from Laura Whittle and Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan-Nuttall) who finished fifth and sixth respectively in times of 15:24.18 and 15:28.53. Whittle ran a well-paced race to reel in the potential medallists, but just missed out on a podium position. McColgan was not too far behind in her first major 5000m final after switching from the 3000m steeplechase.
Julian Reid (Aston Moore) won a maiden European medal in the men’s triple jump, taking home the bronze medal after his 16.76m leap on his first attempt. It was a season’s best for the Birchfield Harrier who has missed out on the final in his last three major championships. However, he jumped big in round one, and although the consistency at that distance did not materialise throughout his series, the Briton did not mind, as he sealed a podium spot.
A delighted Reid said after: “I am very happy with this, it is a medal at a championships and that’s what it is all about. This is my first senior major final so it is special to win a medal. This is my third European championships and first time in a final so I’m quite pleased to get that result this time.
“My follow up jumps weren’t quite there, the only one that was close was my second, and that was a foul. After that second jump, I felt a little niggle and that played on my mind for my next jumps.”
In the men’s 1500m final, there was a frantic burn up on the last lap, spearheaded by Britain’s Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman) but in the end, both Brits placed outside the medals. Lee Emanuel (Joe Franklin) came through strongly in the final 100m, posting a time of 3:47.57. Wightman settled for seventh in a time of 3:47.68 despite a brave effort to lead from the front, striking with 300m to go.
Andrew Pozzi (Malcolm Arnold) equalled his PB with 13.31 (-0.6) to win his 110m hurdles semi-final but sadly as he lined up for the final, he felt his calf cramping so withdrew from the competition as a precautionary measure with the Olympic Games in mind.
In the earlier semi-final stage of the 110m hurdles, David King (James Hillier) exited the competition despite equalling his personal best of 13.54 (-1.8) into a headwind. The City of Plymouth athlete made a valiant effort in his first senior championships for the British team. Lawrence Clarke’s (Samba Koundy-Giscard) competition also came to an end in the semi-finals, narrowly missing out on an automatic slot in the final. He clocked 13.47 (-0.5), the same time as the Spanish athlete Yidiel Contreras in second, but it wasn’t fast enough to advance as one of two fastest qualifiers to the final.
The men’s 4x100m relay team secured a safe passage into tomorrow evening’s final with a European leading time of 38.12 to win heat one. There were a number of high quality changeovers from the British quartet who will go into the final as favourites. James Dasaolu (Steve Fudge) made a powerful start on the opening leg, making ground on his opponents before handing the baton to Adam Gemili (Steve Fudge). A smooth baton change to James Ellington (Linford Christie) followed despite the tight bends in lane one, before CJ Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) finished off the job to make sure the team will contend for gold on the final day.
Gemili spoke about the team, saying: “We are all running very fast so we are pushing each other to make the team. It’s a great era of British sprinting to be part of; it is all exciting and we are lucky to be part of it. We don’t want to say anything about times; we just want to execute our changeovers safely. Those changeovers were very safe in lane one today, I couldn’t even see James (Ellington) running until about 20 metres before the checkmark so hopefully we can get a better lane for the final.”
The women’s 4x100m team also went through to their final as the fastest qualifiers, with a superb set of changeovers to clock a time of 42.59. Asha Philip (Steve Fudge) kick started the race in splendid fashion, handing over to Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie). A strong back straight leg from the European 200m champion set up Bianca Williams (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) perfectly before a confident change to Daryll Neita (Tawiah-Dodoo) saw the British team reach another European final, where they will seek to reclaim their title from 2014.
Asher-Smith spoke after qualification, adding: “It was a good run, on the back straight you always get the best perspective of the whole race. They all did an absolutely amazing job, we got it round quickly so we will get a good lane draw for tomorrow and that’s the main thing.”
Full results from the European Championships can be found here: https://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-championships/2016/schedules-results/
British Athletics medal tally at the 23rd European Championships:
Dina Asher-Smith – Women’s 200m
Martyn Rooney – Men’s 400m
Greg Rutherford – Men’s Long Jump
Jazmin Sawyers – Women’s Long Jump
Anyika Onuora – Women’s 400m
Tiffany Porter – Women’s 100m Hurdles
Julian Reid – Men’s Triple Jump
Danny Talbot – Men’s 200m
Steph Twell – Women’s 5000m