4th March 2017
It was a night to remember for the British Athletics team as Richard Kilty (coach: Michael Khmel) retained his 60m title and Laura Muir (Andy Young) won her first ever senior medal over 1500m to end day two of the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
After a nervy start to the final which saw compatriot Andrew Robertson (Sam Robertson) disqualified for a false start, Kilty kept his nerve to race away from the field in 6.54, the fastest run by a European this year and a first class showing under intense pressure.
The two-time European Indoor champion said: “After the semi-final I felt comfortable, but everyone was running quick times and I know some of the British guys and the Slovakian guy [Volko, silver medallist] can pull big performances out the bag, and I know that can happen – when I did it in 2014 [World Indoor Championships] no-one expected it, so you can never enter thinking ‘no one can win this’.
“I’ve never defended a title before, but I pulled out my phone and looked at a picture of little Richard and thought to myself ‘whatever happens here, when I go home on Monday he’s going to be smiling’, and that just made me think ‘it’s just another competition’ and it completely took my nerves away.”
Theo Etienne (Ryan Freckleton) did much to impress on his senior team debut, with the 20-year-old coming home in 6.67 for fifth in the final.
For newly crowned European Indoor 1500m champion Muir, a typically attacking showing saw her leave the field in her wake as she sprinted away to the line, smashing both the championship record and Dame Kelly Holmes’ 14 year-old British record (4:02.66) as she clocked 4:02.39 for gold.
Of her first senior medal – a gold one at that – Muir said: “To get that medal – I’m so happy. I was actually quite relaxed because I knew what I had to do and I knew that I was stronger than a lot of the girls – I knew that if I got out pretty early then I’d be fine. I didn’t expect someone to be on my shoulder with 300m to go, but I just put the welly in and managed to come away with the win.”
After navigating her earlier round in magnificent style to progress to the final, Muir’s compatriot Sarah McDonald (Bud Baldaro) finished sixth in 4:13.67, with the Birchfield Harrier leaving everything out on the track.
Ashley Bryant (Aston Moore) continued the strong form he showed in this morning’s session as he and Liam Ramsay (Mike Corden) continued in the Heptathlon, beginning with the Shot Put.
It took until Bryant’s third and final throw for him to bring his best, with 14.57m, eight centimetres off his personal best, scoring 763 points to keep him in second beyond Kevin Mayer of France. For Ramsay, a first round throw and season’s best of 13.62m saw him score 705 points to remain 14th in standings.
When it came to the High Jump both athletes’ series brought strong results, with Bryant equalling his indoor personal best of 1.98m at the third attempt, to claim 785 points. Ramsay cleared 2.04m at the first attempt for 840 points. At the end of day one Bryant sits fourth in the standings, with Ramsay in 14th.
Reflecting on his opening day, Bryant said: “I think the exciting thing for me is that I’m coming to championships and producing solid performances which are way better than last year’s – I’m setting PBs this year, and that’s the most exciting thing overall, so I’m excited for both tomorrow and the summer.”
On her first appearance as a British Athletics senior, Laviai Nielsen (Frank Adams) came agonisingly close to bronze in the women’s 400m. After taking the bell in a strong position, the Enfield & Haringey athlete looked to have done enough to make the podium, only for Poland’s Justyna Swiety to come past her with just five meters to go.
“I never thought I'd be disappointed with 4th here, but it was so close” she said. “It went by in such a flash. I just wanted to go out and attack it - I'm not sure what we went through 200m in - but it felt quite quick. It slowed after the break and I just wanted to pass Hejnova in 4th then kick round the bend which I feel like I did. But with 20m to go it just wasn't in my legs.”
Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Jon Bigg) dug in deep to come through her 800m semi-final superbly, with a combination of her closing speed and evident determination seeing her through to tomorrow evening’s final where the 27-year-old will look to be in the mix for her first senior medal.
In the men’s equivalent, Kyle Langford (George Harrison) was edged out of a qualifying spot as he struggled to produce the closing speed which has become a regular feature of his racing style. Having flitted between the top three positions over the first 600m, he was overtaken on the back straight on the final lap and couldn’t bridge the gap before the line came.
In the men’s 1500m final, Tom Lancashire’s (Steve Cram) was just run out of the race after being in the mix for much of it, with Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski coming through the field strongly to lead a swift finish, with Lancashire taking fifth place in 3:46.57.
After sailing over 1.85m at the first time of asking in the High Jump final, unfortunately three failures at 1.89m brought an end to Morgan Lake’s (Fuzz Caan) hopes of winning her first senior medal.