Richard Kilty (coach: Linford Christie) proved that he is a true championship performer, adding the European Indoor Championship 60m title the world title he won twelve months ago.
Kilty looked in terrific shape and full of confidence as he won his heat, semi and final without being really challenged. But that didn’t make the manner of his victory any less impressive as he clocked a season’s best of 6.51 to blow away the opposition.
“That feels amazing, to do the double back to back. I’ve won everything I can indoors now and I’m absolutely honoured to come out here representing Great Britain and I knew no one could stop me following that semi-final performance. I couldn’t keep still in between the rounds and as long as I got from the start line to the finish healthy I knew I was going to take the victory!
“You’ve only really seen me for 12 months now; last year there were a lot of mistakes between the indoor and outdoor season and if you watch the race there, the way I pulled away from the field you can see what’s going to happen outdoors.”
There was heartbreak for Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) however, as in the pressure-cooker environment he false started and was subsequently disqualified after qualifying for the final second fastest. His training partner Sean Safo-Antwi (Tawiah-Dodoo) bowed out in the semi-finals by finishing third, his time of 6.63 just one hundredth short of a fastest loser spot.
In the women’s race, Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) became the fastest teenager in history as she equalled the British record to secure silver over 60m in Prague’s O2 Arena. Scorching out of the blocks like she had done in the two previous rounds, Asher-Smith ran a beautiful race finishing second only to double European champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, who set the fastest time in the world this year. What made it even more special for Asher-Smith though was the fact that she equalled Jeanette Kwakye’s British record of 7.08 in what was the best women’s 60m race in history.
“It’s a bit surreal right now. I’m really happy that I’ve managed to get a PB in the final – that never happens to me.
“I wasn’t expecting to (equal the national record). To equal it I’m over the moon. In the race I was thinking run for your life!”
Earlier in the day Asher-Smith looked as if she’d equalled the British record only for her winning time in semi-final one to be rounded up to an equal personal best of 7.10. In the second semi-final, Rachel Johncock (Lean Baptiste) ran another great race to equal her heat time of 7.26 from lane eight. That time was just two hundredths short of her personal best, meaning she missed out on a spot in the final by a mere four hundredths.
Chris O’Hare (Terrence Mahon) showed grit and determination as he battled his way to a terrific bronze medal, just as he did at the European Championships in Zurich last summer. Putting himself in contention all the way, O’Hare held his ground over the last lap despite the fact there was pain etched across every inch of his face, taking third in season’s best 3.38.96.
“I’m a bit of skin lighter. In the first five metres I got stood on. During the first couple of laps it felt like more than a scratch but it wasn’t going to stop me. I managed to keep my head down and keep my knees up and keep pushing. It was a good race and I’m happy with it!”
Two places further back, Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) also had the run of his life to clock a personal best of 3.39.43 to miss out on a medal in fifth. After falling in the final in Zurich last summer, the European under-23 silver medallist was pleased with his run but disappointed to come so close to a place on the podium.
“It was a tough race. I’m a bit disappointed as I was so close but I’m happy for Chris. It’s tough back to back races in two days but it’s still progression coming fifth.”
The 4x400m relays were the final two events of the championships, and there was a silver lining for the British female quartet as they stayed strong to win silver in a chaotic race. With bumping and barging a constant theme from the very first break, Kelly Massey (Stephen Ball), Seren Bundy-Davies (Ball) and Laura Maddox (Colin Bovell) went back and forward through the field before handing over to Kirsten McAslan (Trevor Painter) in third place.
The Scot didn’t let them down, running a calm and composed leg, making her move count on the second lap as she took the team into second and ensured she stayed there to secure silver in 3.31.79.
Afterwards she said:
“I loved that! I love relays; the excitement and the atmosphere, it’s a different kind of nervousness as you are running for the team and not just for yourself.”
Debutant Laura Maddox added:
“It’s so exciting to be with the team! It was intense and competitive and we were all serious about wanting to get a medal! I’ve enjoyed the whole experience, my first championships and as for getting a medal, I’m absolutely over the moon!”
In the men’s equivalent the GB & NI team of Conrad Williams (Christie), Jamie Bowie (Piotr Haczek), Jarryd Dunn (Keith Holt) and Rabah Yousif (Carol Williams) had to settle for fifth in another messy race. Running from lane three, Conrad Williams ran a good first leg, but had to check in the final metres to hand over to Bowie safely. From that point onwards the team were on the back foot and never made up ground on the medal positions.
Guy Learmonth battled all the way in the men’s 800m final but found the previous two rounds had taken more out of him than he thought as he finished sixth in 1.47.84. After winning both his heat and semi-final, Learmonth had hoped to finish higher, but none-the-less it was a terrific showing for the young Scot on his GB & NI debut.
“I’m a wee bit disappointed to be fair. I’ve got a lot of positives from this competition but I was hoping for a medal. The Dutch boy stole a march and I just didn’t have enough in my legs today. I’ve learnt a lot from this experience. I believe in myself and believe I can compete with these boys.”
There was a straight final in the women’s 1500m, where another GB & NI debutant Rosie Clarke (Thomas Watson) secured a sixth place finish. Running in the chase pack behind runaway leader Sifan Hassan, Clarke ran a smart race to cross the line in 4.16.49.
“I’m a bit disappointed. I would have liked to have done a bit better than that but I didn’t really have it on the day. On the start line I felt really good, ready to go and excited as it was my first time in a GB vest. It’s been a massive learning curve; it’s the first time I’ve been to a major championships. I was meant to have heats and then I didn’t. I’ve learnt to go with the flow a little bit more.”
Unfortunately, due to a worsening of the virus that had affected all week, Jenny Meadows (Painter) was forced to withdraw from her 800m final earlier today.
Full results throughout the weekend can be found at: https://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-indoor-championships/2015/schedules-results/