EUROPEAN U20 CHAMPS
GB WIN FIVE GOLDS AMONG A TOTAL OF 19 MEDALS IN ITALY
Five golds and 19 medals in total for GB juniors in Grosseto
THE GB team equalled its bestever medal haul winning a total of 19 – five of them gold – but had to settle for a close second in the medal table to Germany.
Britain’s sole winner of the final day was Jemma Reekie. The Scot, who was fourth in the 3000m, was too fast for her rivals as she blasted a 49sec last 300m to win the 1500m by three seconds in 4:13.25.
She said: “I enjoyed running on the track but my legs were a little bit tired from the semifinal. I was determined so I gave whatever I had in this race so I’m happy with my result.”
Harriet Knowles-Jones finished third in 4:17.53. Longtime leader Amelia Quirk was fourth in 4:19.23 after having led through 800m in 2:15.50.
Britain had also gained a one-two in the women’s 800m on Saturday. It was a slow race with a 66.17 first lap but the second lap was much quicker and Khahisa Mhlanga prevailed by five hundredths of a second from team-mate Ellie Baker, as she edged by in the last 10m.
Mhlanga, 17, who pulled faces for the TV camera, won in 2:06.96. Third was Slovakia’s Gabriele Gajanova as 0.21 covered the top four.
The winner said: “I enjoyed the race and I actually had fun, the weather was beautiful. I’m happy for my team-mate that won the silver.”
Jessica Judd won an 800m medal in the World Junior Championships, but never competed at a European Junior Championships.
Last year’s European under-18 champion, Jake Heyward, was a shock winner of the 1500m. He led through the early laps in a pedestrian 67.70 and then 2:17.89 at 800m. The third lap was inside 60 but it was the last 300m where the damage was done as he unleashed a 39.29 last 300m to complete a quarter-second victory. He said: “I started slow getting a good position in the middle of the race and then I trusted my sprint that let me win the race.”
Archie Davis was less than second back in fifth in 3:57.66.
The favourite Jakob Ingebritsen fell 300m out after getting boxed but still finished eighth, less than two seconds back. He made up for it in the 5000m as, covered in plasters, he blasted a relaxed 54.87 last lap to win easily in 14:41.68.
The following day the Norwegian made it two golds in the 3000m steeplechase.
The one 800m and 1500m Britain didn’t win was the twolap race in which they had the most overwhelming favourite.
Markhim Lonsdale tried everything but was unable to pass winner Marino Bloudek of Croatia as he ran 1:48.82 to finish 0.12 behind.
He said: “I thought I could handle the race, but Bloudek has been stronger than me here. I tried to pass him 200m from the finish, and was then trying to catch him, but he defended really well.”
Apart from the middle distances, Britain’s success came in the 200m.
Maya Bruney entered the championships with a 23.51 PB but the John Blackie-coached Blackheath and Bromley athlete improved to 23.47 in her heat and then shattered that with a 23.07 in her semi-final despite a 1.9 m/sec headwind. In the final she trimmed that to 23.04. She won by four metres from Sophia Junk of Germany’s 23.45.
The 23.04 moved Bruney to sixth all-time in the UK under-20 rankings but only third from her club. Remarkably, Dina Asher-Smith won the event in 2013 and Shannon Hylton was second in 2015.
Alisha Rees just missed a medal, finishing fourth in 23.45.
“I’m really happy with the race because I did a PB and I ran the fastest European time this year,” Bruney said. “The crowd was fantastic and my family are here so I hope they are proud of me.”
Britain gained a one-two in the men’s 200m with great times considering the 0.9m/sec headwind. Toby Harries, who was runner-up in the national championships to Romell Glave, won the 200m by a metre in 20.81, improving his legal PB from 20.89 in the semi-final.
Jona Efoloko, who was disqualified from the heats at Bedford, only qualified for the Italian final by one hundredth of a second in 21.20 and had a better run in the final.
He timed 20.92, his first-ever sub-21 and he remains a junior for 2018.
Anastasiya Bryzhina of Ukraine won the women’s 400m in 52.01. Hannah Williams took bronze for Britain in a 52.55 PB, to match the PB of older sister Jodie.
Another British medal was won by Robert Sakala, who improved his 110m hurdles PB to 13.48, which puts him equal eighth all-time in the UK under-20 lists. He finished second to fast-finishing Jason Joseph of Switzerland’s 13.41.
Britain also won silver in the women’s sprint hurdles. France’s Solene Ndama was winner in 13.15 with Alicia Barrett a clear second in 13.28. Sophie Yorke was fifth in 13.51.
Molly Caudery set a PB 4.35m in the pole vault to take silver behind Sweden’s highly regarded Lisa Gunnarsson, who won with a 4.40m vault.
Caudery’s vault moves her up to equal third in the UK alltime junior rankings level with Holly Bradshaw. Her previous best was 4.25m.
There was a British bronze in the men’s high jump in what was the best quality event of the championships.
There were a massive number of PBs and gold went to Belarus’s Maksim Nedasekau, who looked like he was heading for third place when he failed first time at 2.28m, while his two fellow medallists cleared it with PBs.
But Nedasekau took the lead with his final chance jump at 2.30m and then cleared 2.33m with his last effort to improve the 40-year-old championship record.
Ukraine’s Dmytro Nikitin was also in smoking hot form and improved his PB repeatedly all the way from 2.18m to 2.28m.
That height was also cleared by Britain’s Tom Gale who previously had a best of 2.23m.
Gale’s improvement moved him to second all-time in the UK junior lists to Steve Smith’s world junior record 2.37m.
The winner’s leap was the highest by a world junior since Smith’s 1992 mark.
George Evans threw 59.05m for bronze in the final round of the discus won by Poland’s Oskar Stachnik with 62.01m.
Behind the winning German team (43.44), which had earlier broken the world under-20 record with 43.27 in qualifying, a GB women’s 4x100m quartet of Ebony Carr, Alisha Rees, Bruney and Olivia Okoli combined to run 44.17 for bronze behind France and ahead of Ireland. The German
team had included Katrin Fehm, Sophie Junk, Keshia Kwadwo and Jennifer Montag.
Bruney claimed a third medal, helped by her quickest leg of the race of 51.7. The team of Mair Edwards, Bruney, Ella Barrett and Hannah
Williams won bronze in 3.33.68 behind Ukraine and Germany.
“I would never have thought I’d come here and win three medals, it’s insane!” said
Bruney. “What a team to do it with as well – it’s been an unbelievable journey.”
The men’s 4x400m was won by Italy in 3:08.68, while the 4x100m title was again claimed by Germany in 39.48 as GB finished fourth in 39.67.
After the world record by his team-mates in the women’s 4x100m, another world under-20 mark was broken by a German athlete as Niklas Kaul was impressive in the decathlon, achieving 8435 points to get gold ahead of Estonia’s Johannes Erm (8141) and Karel Tilga (8002).
“I’m really happy, I was not expecting to go over 8400 points – it’s just amazing,” said the winner. “This is the best way to end the season.”
While Kaul’s previous best had been 8162 points, the previous world junior record of 8397 had been set with senior implements, while the German’s marks were with junior implements.
Sweden’s Armand Duplantis was another athlete to impress in the pole vault as he cleared 5.55m on his first attempt and just his second vault of the competition before having the bar raised to 5.65m. Clearing that on his third attempt, Duplantis broke Maksim Tarasov’s championship record of 5.60m set in 1989 before attempting 5.80m.
Britain’s Joel Leon Benitez, who has been in good form all season, failed at his opening height of 5.10m.
Czech Republic’s Michaela Hruba cleared 1.93m to win the high jump before three attempts at what would have been a championship record of 1.96m, while France’s Martin Lamou leapt a European under-20 lead and PB of 16.97m for triple jump gold as his compatriot and favourite Melvin Raffin had to settle for bronze.
Owen Richardson set a PB of 46.49 in the men’s 400m in a race won by Italian Vladimir Aceti in 45.92.
Julia Ritter of Germany won the shot with 17.24m with GB’s Divine Oladipo, showing greatly improved form from qualifying where she scarped 12th best into the final, with a 16.03m throw for fourth.
Czech Katerina Skypalova won the hammer with a 64.78m throw. Ireland’s Michaela Walsh won bronze, courtesy of a 61.27m throw.
Cyprian Mrzyglod won the javelin with a Polish under-20 record 80.52m.
Russian Sergey Shirobokov, competing under the neutral flag, won the 10,000m walk in 43:21.29.
Gina Akpe-Moses won a surprise gold for Ireland while Filippo Tortu joined her in 100m success in front of his home fans.
Clocking 11.71 (-1.4), 18-year-old Akpe-Moses finished ahead of German favourite Keshia Kwadwo (11.75) as Britain’s Olivia Okoli finished fourth in 11.86.
“It was amazing and I’m so excited,” said the winner.
“I hoped to get a medal, and eventually the dream came true. In the semi-finals I started thinking I could jump on the podium, but only in the last 20m of the final I had the thought ‘I can get the gold medal’.”
Tortu and his fellow finalists had to battle with a headwind of -4.3 m/sec but the Italian claimed victory with 10.73 ahead of Finland’s Samuel Purola with 10.79 and GB’s Oliver Bromby with 10.88. “The important thing wasn’t the time but the place,” said Tortu.
Naomi Ogbeta had earlier claimed GB’s first medal of the championships as she leapt a windy 13.68m (+3.0) in the sixth round of a triple jump won by Violetta Skvartsova of Belarus with 14.21m (+2.4).
Four athletes achieved more than 6000 points in the heptathlon, led by Ukraine’s Alina Shukh and Switzerland’s Geraldine Ruckstuhl with
6381 and 6357 points.
Proving the high standard of the competition, GB’s Niamh Emerson missed out on a medal despite scoring 6013.
“I wanted 5900 [England Commonwealth Games standard] and I knew I could get that, everything just had to be good,” said Emerson, who finished fourth and moves up to third on the British junior all-time list behind Katarina JohnsonThompson and Morgan Lake and ahead of Jessica Ennis-Hill. “After my javelin PB I was like ‘I’m going to get 6000 points and that is just crazy’. Now I just need to keep progressing.”
Holly McArthur also impressed as she improved her PBs in all seven events for 5687 points to place 11th and also achieve a Commonwealth Games standard for Scotland.
Ukraine’s Hlib Piskunov broke the championship record with 81.75m to get hammer gold, as GB’s Jake Norris was seventh with a best of 72.68m.
Maya Bruney: 200m winner for Great Britain
World record-breakers: Germany beat the United States’ under-20 4x100m best
Jemma Reekie (centre) and Harriet Knowles-Jones (right): 1500m glory
Khahisa Mhlanga: 800m gold ahead of fellow Brit Ellie Baker in Italy
Jakob Ingebrigsten: steeplechase and 5000m golds but fell in the 1500m
Niklas Kaul: German decathlete set world under-20 record in Grosseto