The British team ended their campaign at the inaugural European Youth Championships winning four medals including two golds on the final day, which saw them to top the medal table in Tbilisi with a total of 13.
After winning six medals yesterday, Holly Mills (coach: James Coney) ensured the team got off to a flying start in the afternoon winning gold in the long jump.
Unfazed by the strong headwinds ranging from -1.2m/s to -6.5m/s, Mills showed her composure producing an impressive series of jumps, which included four in excess of six metres to take the European Youth title. However, there were some nervy moments when Maja Bedrac matched Mills’ jump of 6.19m in the final round, but consistency won on the day with Mills’ second best jump of 6.09m two centimetres better than her Slovenian counterpart.
Mills said: “I’m so happy, I can’t even explain it. I came in ranked third and I can’t believe I ended up coming away with the gold medal.
“On my practice jumps it wasn’t going right (with the headwind), but when I jumped the 6.19m, I felt safe and knew I could go for it. When the Slovenian (Bedrac) had her last jump, I was so nervous then but luckily on countback I got it by a few centimetres.
“I feel like a changed athlete, it’s my first time abroad and I feel like a proper athlete now. Having now won that medal I feel a really big part of the British team.”
George Mills (Joanne Day) once again showed how front running is supposed to be done as he won the team’s second gold medal of the day in the 800m. Mills, whose dad Danny played for England in the 2002 football World Cup set off at a blistering pace and maintained his stranglehold on the race crossing the line in a career best time of 1:48.92. His teammate Markhim Lonsdale (David Lowes) ended his campaign in fifth place finishing in 1:51.10.
Mills said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic. I came in knowing I was capable of it if I ran well and recovered comfortably between the rounds. I ran the rounds maturely I think, easing off when I could but today was about getting out hard and making people work as hard as they could to beat me.
“Fortunately my best was better than their best today. (On his personal best performance) I would have come here and run two minutes because all I was here to do was win.”
The final two medals of the championships came from 1500m duo Sabrina Sinha (Peter Mullervy) and Erin Wallace (Dudley Walker), who won silver and bronze respectively. Sinha lost out to Switzerland’s Delia Sclabas in a sprint finish with the Cambridge Harrier coming through in 4:23.10 with a visibly exhausted Wallace taking the final spot on the podium in 4:28.17.
Sinha, one of the team captains for the British contingent said: “I’m definitely pleased – second in Europe, that’s pretty impressive. I’m slightly disappointed because I came in as the favourite and I guess that put a lot of pressure on me, more than I realise.
“The race didn’t go as planned either, but I just stuck with what I could do and that’s all I could ask of myself.
“I’m so proud of them (the team). Even if I hadn’t been one of the team captains, I would have been proud. We’ve really bonded together as a team and I think we’ll be friends for life. Just on performances, everyone has done amazing. Whether that’s on position or the fact they gave it their all. I don’t think anyone should come away from these championships disappointed.”
Wallace, the European Youth bronze medallist added: “I couldn’t be happier – I gave it my all and that’s all you can ask for. I was so out of it at the end so it was hard to take it all in. I couldn’t have gone any quicker because at the end it felt like I was going backwards.
“The girls here are a year older, so that gives me a lot of confidence going into international competitions next year.”
In what proved difficult conditions for the high jump, Ada’Ora Chigbo (Fuzz Caan) and Abby Ward (Ian Hill) ended the competition on 1.75m. Only two athletes made it over 1.79m in the final, but the duo will have their sights on next year’s World Junior Championships in Italy next year.
In the discus final, James Tomlinson (Paul Jensen) threw a best of 57.10m to finish in sixth in Europe, while Alex Knibbs (Julie Feeney) came through his 400m hurdles final from lane one to finish seventh in a personal best time of 53.02.
Jude Bright-Davies (David Johnson) went into the triple jump final with a new personal best after leaping to 15.40m in qualification finished seventh overall with his best attempt of 14.78m coming in the third round.
After a strong first day in the decathlon, Sam Talbot (Eldon Lake) opened with the fastest 110m hurdles time in the field posting a time of 13.86, but was to suffer heartbreak in the discus. The British U18 record holder posted three consecutive fouls, with his last attempt finishing just a few metres outside the permitted zone.
However, Talbot bravely picked himself up and vaulted an equal outdoor personal best of 4.00m in the pole vault. In his last two events, the multi-eventer produced a best throw of 49.68m in the javelin and ended his campaign in impressive fashion with a four-second lifetime best of 4:46.45 in the 1500m to finish in 12th place overall.
British medals at the European Youth Championships, Tbilisi, Georgia:
Isabelle Boffey (800m)
Jona Efoloko (200m)
Jake Heyward (1500m)
George Mills (800m)
Holly Mills (long jump)
Anna Burt (800m)
Jake Norris (hammer)
Alisha Rees (200m)
Sabrina Sinha (1500m)
Niamh Emerson (heptathlon)
Lucy Pygott (3000m)
Jason Nicholson (110m hurdles)
Erin Wallace (1500m)
Niamh Emerson (heptathlon)
Sophie Lewis-Ward (5000m race walk)
Jake Norris (hammer)