San­ford’s late surge makes Euro his­tory — and de­nies GB a medal

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - BY SI­MON GRIVER

ATH­LET­ICS Don­ald San­ford made his­tory when he be­came t h e f i r s t I s r a e l i t o w i n a sprint medal at the Euro­pean ath­let­ics cham­pi­onships — one he ded­i­cated to the IDF.

San­ford won the 400me­tres bronze in Zurich, deny­ing Great Bri­tain a 123 fin­ish, with a new Is­raeli record of 45.27secs, break­ing the 45.39secs he had set in the semi-fi­nal.

As he ran into the fi­nal straight he was only in fifth po­si­tion and a re­peat of the 2012 cham­pi­onships looked on the cards, where he fin­ished fourth.

But he over­took Bri­tain’s Con­rad Smith and Poland’s Jakub Krzewina to fin­ish third be­hind Bri­tain’s Mar­tyn Rooney and Matt Hud­son-Smith.

He said: “I didn’t think I would break the record again in the fi­nal, but I felt good and my legs felt good. I ex­e­cuted the race ex­actly as I planned and it worked. For most of the race I was look­ing at my ri­vals’ backs. But I put ev­ery­thing into that fi­nal 100 me­tres and I’m so happy. I so much wanted that medal for my­self, for my fam­ily, for Is­rael and all the sol­diers who have been so heroic so that I can train peace­fully.

“This is my first-ever medal in a ma­jor cham­pi­onship, thanks to my great coaches and a lot of hard work.”

San­ford, 27, is also only the sec­ond Is­raeli to win a medal af­ter Rus­sian im­mi­grant Alex Aver­bukh won gold in the pole vault in 2002 and 2006.

USA-born San­ford took Is­raeli cit­i­zen­ship three years ago af­ter mar­ry­ing bas­ket­ball player Danielle Dekel.

There was a ma­jor dis­ap­point­ment when women’s triple jumper Hanna Knyazeva-Mi­nenko pulled out with a mus­cle strain, but high jumper Maayan Sha­haf-For­man fin­ished 14th in the fi­nal af­ter she failed all three of her at­tempts to jump 1.90 me­tres.

In the marathon, Ber­i­hun Wuve, Yama­ha­ran Yosef and Amir Ra­mon all fin­ished in the last 10 of the 50 run­ners but Zo­har Zim­ron pulled up early.

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