3 March 2013
There were two more gold medals for Great Britain & Northern Ireland in the final session of the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg as both the men's and women's teams won the 4x400m relay titles.
The GB & NI women’s 4x400m quartet led from the first leg until the finish line as the quartet of Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold), Shana Cox (George Williams), Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) and Perri Shakes-Drayton (Chris Zah) defeated Russia into second place and crossed the line in a new championship record of 3:27.56 – with split times of 52.1, 52.3, 51.9 and 51.2.
Shakes-Drayton, who was crowned individual 400m champion earlier in the day, brought the baton home on the last leg to win her second gold medal this championship and cap off an excellent weekend.
“It was a very good day in the office for me and now I can actually celebrate! After winning the gold earlier, I had to calm down. It's been a tough weekend, but the hard work I've put in has paid off.”
Individual silver medallist Child said that the team spirit helped them to clinch gold: “The adrenalin kept us going and no-one wanted to let each other down - we wanted to do well and come home with the gold.”
In the men’s 4x400m relay, Michael Bingham (George Williams) and Richard Buck (Steve Fudge) got the team off to a good start before Nigel Levine (Linford Christie), second in the individual 400m, took the lead on leg three to give Richard Strachan (Linford Christie) the baton with a comfortable lead. Strachan brought the team home comfortably in first place in a time of 3:05.78.
It was a nervous few moments for the squad after the race, suffering a DQ before being reinstated when Richard Buck was adjudged to have stepped off track following a mid race collision with the Polish second leg athlete.
Fortunately the result stood and the men’s team were able to finally celebrate a golden moment of their own. Splits were: 47.1, 46.3, 45.8, 46.5.
“I took the baton off Michael and I knew it was going to be tight. I saw the Polish guy outside me really vying for it and I thought ‘I’m getting there first’. I really put it in and when he came in and landed on me I did the best I could to sit in there but where else could I have gone? I was trying desperately to stay up and I had to drop one foot out to come back in again.
“It’s so good to be a champion, it’s what was missing – I’m so happy. I just want to say thank you to everyone that has ever helped me and especially my granddad who has been seriously ill in hospital this year.”
Levine, whose stellar leg brought the team into gold medal position was delighted with the result:
“A double medallist, I can’t ask for more really. It’s nice to have finally won something – we always have the best team but we never win anything. The guys did a great job and I’d like to thank everyone including the medical team who have helped us along the way.”
Asha Philip (Christine Bowmaker) finished sixth in an incredibly close women’s 60m final, equalling her personal best of 7.15. Philip had previously run a time of 7.17 to qualify in third place in her semi-final and ensure that every British female at the championships made their final.
“I'm really happy, I'm the type of person that can't complain about anything I do on the track. I'm so happy to be here at the championships, injury free and in the final. Unfortunately I missed out on a medal, but I did equal my PB, so technically I'm on form.”
Steve Lewis (Dan Pfaff, Scott Simpson) cleared 5.71m at the third attempt for a season’s best in the pole vault but after passing at 5.76m was unable to equal the British record of 5.81m and finished in sixth place.
Although he didn’t win a medal, Lewis was content with his performance: “I was jumping at a championships which is what I love doing and jumping for a medal. I felt pretty good, it wasn’t to be today but I was happy to be in the mix with the preparation I’d had.”
Chris Tomlinson (Rana Reider) finished seventh in the men’s long jump with a best jump of 7.95m and admits he was disappointed to have missed out on a medal.
“At the moment I'm disappointed that I didn’t get on the rostrum. It was probably to be expected because I was rusty out there. I think on my best jump of 7.95m I didn't have the leg shoot and on my second best jump I dropped my elbow back about 20cm that certainly cost me a rostrum spot. But at least I know where I am now and can build on it towards the outdoor season.”
British Athletics Head Coach Peter Eriksson believed that these were successful championships for the GB & NI team who finished second in the medal table behind Russia with eight medals, - four gold, three silver and a bronze.
“It was really exciting; I think this was a great eight medals. We said we wanted to do better – I think we did better as we had one more gold than last time in 2011. I think there were a lot of season’s bests and personal bests for the team, all of the women made finals and it was only a few guys who didn’t reach their finals so I think this was a big success for us.”