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Britain win four medals on last day of Euro U23 Champs as Italy top table

Written by 
Published in Athletics
Sunday, 11 July 2021 15:39
British athletes Molly Caudery, Erin Wallace, Thomas Randolph and Lucy Hadaway make the podium in Tallinn as Italy enjoy a gold rush on the final day

If Britain’s English athletes were looking for good signs for the the football it didn’t quite happen on the last day of action at the European Under-23 Championships at Tallinn on Sunday (July 11) as the Brits failed to win another gold medal and ended up ninth in the medal table which was topped by Italy thanks to winning golds at 800m, 1500m and 5000m and the triple jump.

Molly Caudery’s silver medal was the best of the Brits on Sunday with a silver medal in the pole vault and there were bronze medals for Lucy Hadaway [long jump], Thomas Randolph [800m] and Erin Wallace [1500m] and as on Saturday they also gained a number of high placings but their day was summed up by two DNFs in the 4x100m relays and a fall in the men’s 4x400m.

Having won the European Team Championships and run a 4:04.23 in Florence, Gaia Sabbatini was a big favourite for the women’s 1500m and a 59-second last lap saw her win easily in 4:13.98 from her team-mate Marta Zenoni’s 4:14.50.

The challenge on the day of the Euro football final, came not from England but from Scotland. Last time Jemma Reekie won this event and one of her training partners, Erin Wallace, took the other medal but it was close.

Boxed for much of the race, she just about managed to squeeze inside Spain’s Agueda Muńoz in lane one in the last few strides and both dived at the line, falling but the Brit got the verdict by two hundredths of a second (4:14.85 to 4:14.87) to match her medal from the 2016 European Under-18 Championships, having run a 60.29 last lap.

She said: “I thought I am not going to make it if I don’t throw myself at the line so that’s what I did and I am glad I did. It was worth it for the medal. I think I ran the race well although the last lap really hurt but I am so so glad I got a medal. I saw a wee space at 200m so took my chance and then pushed on to the line.”

There were three Brits in the men’s 800m final, although that also saw an Italian victory. Simone Barontini, fifth in the 2018 World Under-20 Championships, led through the bell in 53.18 and kept a similar pace through 600m (79.70) and he held a narrow advantage all the way to the line to win in 1:46.20.

Belgium’s Eliott Crestan, who was third in that 2018 race and ran a recent 1:45.19 PB, finished second in 1:46.32. There was a close battle for third and it was Thomas Randolph, who was ahead at 200m in 24.97 who just about held on down the straight thrusting his arm up on the line and his 1:46.41 was a PB and he just about held off his team-mate Ben Pattison (1:46.48) who matched his British Olympic trials position in fourth, while Finlay Mclear was sixth in 1:47.52.

Randolph said: “This season has been amazing. I aimed for the time, got that, got selected and aimed for the final thinking anything can happen and it has! You can’t beat a PB in a tactical race like that and to come away with a bronze medal is special. On the bend I could see a space and took it and thought I could get the win, but the legs couldn’t quite manage that.”

A power cut in the stadium just before the women’s 5000m meant a 20-minute delay and that no one saw the race on European Athletics’ live feed and the performances were hand-timed.

Nadia Battocletti was the European junior bronze medallist in 2017 and the silver medallist in 2019, so the natural progression was to win. But with an Olympic qualifying mark of 14:58.73 in Nice and a win in the European Team Championships few would have bet against her and the Italian won easily in 15:37.4.

Klara Lucan of Slovenia took second in 15:44.0 while Diane Van Es took bronze for the Netherlands in 15:48.4 as Britain’s Izzy Fry finished eighth in 16:01.6.

It was not just track success for Italy though. Andrea Dallavalle, second in the 2017 European Juniors and third in the 2019 Under-23s, completed the medal set by winning the triple jump. He took the lead with a third round 17.05/-0.5 to eclipse France’s Enzo Hodebar’s second round effort of a 16.99/1.9 PB. France also took the bronze through Thomas Gogois’ 16.65/-0.2.

It was also a good final day for the Czech Republic saw world junior champion Amálie Švábíková win the women’s pole vault. Second in 2019, she took gold with a season’s best 4.50m which cleared at her first attempt.
She only got over 4.45m at the second attempt which put her behind Molly Caudery who cleared that at the first attempt. However the Brit failed her attempts at first 4.50m and then two at 4.55m.

The favourite was NCAA champion indoor and out and 2018 winner Lisa Gunnarsson who exited the competition with a best of 4.40m which sufficed for bronze.

A delighted Caudery said: “I am really really happy with that. It is slightly bittersweet with that ending as I took two follow throughs at 4.55 but it is great to get a medal. 4.45 is a great height and it was a very long competition.”

The women’s long jump was also a cracking contest and saw the first four set PBs. Germany’s Merie Homeier opened with a big 6.69/1.9 leap but she lost out to the fourth round jump of Petra Beáta Farkas which was a European under-23 lead of 6.73/1.1 and enabled her to go one place up on 2019.

Lucy Hadaway achieved her longest ever jump in the opening round – a marginally wind-assisted 6.53/2.1 which put her second after the opening round and then went ever further in the third round with a legal 6.55/1.5.

However, by the time she jumped in the fourth round, she had gone back to fifth but she responded with a superb 6.63/1.7 and she backed that up with a 6.63/0.9 final jump which gave the bronze by just two centimetres.

Hadaway said: “It is my first medal for GB and I still haven’t processed it. I wasn’t completely happy with any of the jumps (in qualification), but I knew there was something bigger. To get PB after PB and jump over 6.60m for the first time, especially as I have had limited training following injury and covid, so I am so happy to have come into form and come away with a bronze medal today. The standard in the long jump is just insane, so it is really special to be involved in it.”

Joel Khan added to the good placings but narrowly missed out on a medal in the men’s high jump.
Jan Stefela of the Czech Republic was the only jumper to clear 2.20m which he did at the first attempt.

The silver medal was shared by France’s Nathan Ismar and Italy’s Manuel Lando who both cleared 2.14m and 2.17m at the first attempt and both failed at the Stefela’s winning height.

Khan matched the records of the minor medallists in all but his first attempt failure at 2.17m which cost him a share of the silver.

The British Championships silver medallist said: “It is a difficult position to be in as I know I could have won it but I’m not disappointed because I enjoyed that final jump so much. To have the crowd behind me is exactly why I do this sport. It was fantastic to get that international experience that I need.”

There was quite a link between the men’s and women’s 4x100m races. Germany won both from Spain and Britain failed to get the baton round each time.

Germany won the women’s in a championships record 43.05 from Spain’s 43.74 and France’s 44.15 as Ireland and Sweden failed to connect while Italy were disqualified. Sadly, Alisha Rees had to pull up with an injury on the second leg, so were unable to finish.

The British quartet of Ellie Booker, Rees, Georgina Adam and Kristal Awuah had won their heat in a European under-23 lead of 43.62 which would have sufficed for second in the final.

Six teams got around in the men’s as a well-drilled Germany added salt to Britain’s wounds by breaking their Championships record and European under-23 mark of 38.77 set in 2013 with a 38.70 clocking.
Ukraine took bronze in 39.45.

Britain did not manage a single change-over with 100m champion Jeremiah Azu seemingly going off far too early on the second leg. They had run 39.77 in the heats.

Teenager Aliaksandra Konshyna, the 2018 European under-18 champion, won the women’s javelin with a 59.14m PB throw from Turkey’s Münevver Hancı’s 57.37m and France’s Jona Aigouy’s 55.82m. British trials winner Bekah Walton continued her good form with a fighting fifth and her 53.46m would have been a PB prior to her Manchester win and she was lying third after the opening two rounds.

She said: “I came in ranked 22nd and came out fifth so I shouldn’t be disappointed but having sat in a medal position for so long, you really want a taste of it, so it is little bittersweet. I’ll walk away happy and keep looking to improve for the rest of the season.”

With the first two from the individual event the Czech Republic were favourites for the women’s 4x400m and Lada Vondrová led off with an explosive 51.91 to put them over a second clear. Their next two runners were not of the same standard and run in the 53s but at the start of the last leg they were within a second of the leaders in fourth and had Barbora Malíková to come.

She stayed in fourth until late into the straight and then easily sprinted past her three opponents – France, Poland and Germany – to complete a 50.91 leg and give her team a European under-23 lead of 3:30.11 with France (3:30.33) and Poland (3:30.38) also very close.

Britain were fifth in 3:33.06 with legs of 54.24 for Hannah Kelly, 53.58 by Zoe Pollock, 52.80 by heptathlon medallist Holly Mills and 52.44 by 800m champion Isabelle Boffey.

Yasmin Liverpool who had run a 52.60 in the heats did not contest the final.

In the men’s 3000m steeplechase, István Palkovits was a favourite based on his 8:29.86 PB last month and he won at a canter as the kilometres got quicker throughout (2:57.01, 2:52.89 and 2:44.15) though it could have been even faster as the Hungarian celebrated throughout the last 100 metres.Behind his 8:34.05, silver went to Portugal’s Etson Barros who went one better than he did in the 2019 European Juniors.

Third went to a delighted Nahuel Carabaña in 8:39.17 as he won Andorra’s first ever medal in any event in the Championships. A few weeks ago he actually featured in Andorra’s national 4x400m record in the European Team Championships!

The final track event of the championships was a dramatic men’s 4x400m and the official result was not officially declared until well over a hour after the event. First across the line was the Netherlands but their third leg runner – 800m finalist Djoao Lobles clearly shoved Britain’s Aidan Leeson which resulted in first Switzerland’s Fillipo Moggi falling which then brought down Leeson and meant Italy’s Riccardo Meli had to take evasive action and detour violently to the inside of the track for a number of strides and lose well over a second.

Leeson got up reasonably quickly to complete his leg in 49.40 and Alastair Chalmers chased hard but faded after his aggressive start and ran 47.04 as Britain finished sixth in 3:09.28. Earlier Lewis Davey had led leg one with a 46.88 with Alex Haydock-Wilson handing over second after a 45.96.

Britain who had set the European lead in winning their heat in 3:05.42 with Davey running 46.46, Ethan Brown 46.47, Leeson 46.30 and Haydock-Wilson 46.19. That time would have comfortably won a medal in the final as in that race Ramsey Angela, who had been third in the 400m hurdles final and was a member of the winning Dutch team in the European Indoor Championships, ran a superb 44.90 anchor leg to temporarily pip France (3:05.01) with Italy (3:06.07) and Germany (3:06.42) also eventually moving up a place hough Ramsey’s run ultimately counted for nothing.

Other fast legs came from 400m winner Ricky Petrucciani with a 45.29 for eventual non finishers Switzerland on leg two where Italy’s Edoardo Scotti was even faster with 45.01.

Finland are the most successful javelin nation in the world and their latest star looks like being Topias Laine and his 81.67m third round throw was an European under-23 lead and Finnish age-group record as he won Finland’s first gold in Estonia in the very last event of the Championships. Leandro Ramos of Portugal was second with a 80.61m throw while Teuraiterai Tupaia took bronze for France with a 78.80m heave.

If the javelin is the Finn’s national event then the decathlon is probably owned by the Germans.

Andreas Bechmann dominated to win with a 8142 PB score and European under-23 lead though his huge 226 point overnight lead was whittled down on the second day with Sven Roosen of the Netherlands taking silver with a PB 8056 and Markus Rooth setting a Norwegian under-23 record of 7967 in third.

In the final medal table Italy (6 gold, 5 silver, 2 bronze medals) edged Germany (6, 4, 2), with Czech Republic (4, 1, 0) and Spain (3, 7, 5) completing the top four.

Britain were ninth (2, 1, 5).

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