8th July 2018


Three more medals were won on the final day of the European Athletics U18 championships, taking the British teams final medal tally to nine medals overall and topping the medal table for a second consecutive time.

The favourite for the boys 800m title Max Burgin (Brian Burgin, Halifax Harriers) produced a breath-taking display to win the gold medal in a championship record and world U18 lead of 1:47.36.

Burgin once again took on the field on the opening lap, forcing the pace to try and encourage others to take him on but they could not handle his world-class front running ability. The Yorkshireman never looked in danger, powering again with 200m to go to win by a significant margin.

The newly-crowned European U18 champion spoke afterwards: “It’s unbelievable – it’s a PB as well so it was the perfect race really, everything I could have hoped for. I didn’t know I had that time in me but now that I do, hopefully in a time trial race I can go even faster. We’ll have to see but I’m really pleased with the result. It is a cliché but it is a dream come true.

“It was the safest thing for me [to front run the race]. I just ran my absolute hardest. I left everything on the track and fortunately that was enough. I think I saw the splits at 500m but that’s about all I can remember. I wanted to go through in around 52 / 53 seconds, that was going to be perfect for me.”

It means the title remains in British hands after George Mills won two years ago in Tbilisi, and it was very much deserved for Burgin who has raced very professionally through the rounds in Gyor, bringing his best to the track for the final.

He added: “In the heats and semi-finals, it gave me confidence that I could I could do a good time all by myself. During the race, I didn’t really get tight and didn’t blow up or anything so my legs held up well after the rounds.

“The hardest thing over the three days has been hiding my nerves. Controlling them seems to be making me run better. It’s a key part of my preparation for my races, as it should be for any athlete.”

Carrying on the run of sensational endurance displays during these championships, Emily Williams (Shane Smith, Kettering) won silver in the girls 1500m final.

In a race dominated by Ireland’s Sarah Healey – who also won the 3000m earlier in the week – Williams showed great composure to run a controlled race, striding away to second place.

As the pace picked up over the final lap, a gap opened for the top three, and the Kettering athlete managed to hold her form in the closing stages.

She said afterwards: “Oh my gosh, it sounds unbelievable [to be a European U18 silver medallist]. I‘ve mixed between the 1500m and 800m all season, and I think my speed really helped me in the final part of the race.

“I was nervous – but I could see that three of us had moved away from the others. The pace picked up with 200m to go and I knew I had to go with it because I really wanted a medal.”

After setting the third quickest time ever by a British U18 athlete in the semi-final, all eyes were on Karl Johnson (Tony Jarrett, Newham & Essex Beagles) in the 400m hurdles final, and he produced his best ever performance, setting a British U18 record of 50.90 to win the bronze medal.

His form in recent months has been staggering, clocking a personal best of 52.43 over the senior hurdles height last month, so he went into these championships at the lower hurdle height with the expectation of pushing for a medal.

He certainly did that, but he faced a battle in the home straight as four athletes were all in contention for the medal places. However, he ran the race of his life to earn his place on the podium by just 0.02 seconds from Norway’s Andreas Haara Bakketun.

The Londoner said post-race: “I am over the moon, words can’t describe it. Coming into the home straight I wasn’t in the best of positions but I just thought, I’ve worked too hard to not come away with anything. I gave it my all and fell across the line.

“I knew it was going to be a fast finish to the race because that’s what happened in the semis. I knew they were going to push me all the way. I knew I’d have to bring my best performance on the day if I was going to win a medal.

“Coming off the hurdle, that’s the hardest I’ve ever run off it. I could see them all coming but I couldn’t finish fourth at a championship. I’m so happy to get my place on the podium.”

In the girls 100m hurdles, Marcia Sey (Lorna Boothe) and Lucy-Jane Matthews (Andrew Fisher, Southampton) were fourth and fifth respectively on their international debuts.

Sey looked on course for a medal but she faced a cruel blow as she clipped the last hurdle and was overhauled by the fast finishing Austrian Johanna Plank. But it was a strong race from the Croydon athlete as she clocked 13.44 (+1.0).

For Matthews, she equalled her personal best set in the semi-finals – 13.45 – which was once again a British U15 record.

Jack Turner (Kevin Skinner, Exeter) completed the decathlon with a huge lifetime best points total which would have doubled as a British U18 record had it not exceeded the number of wind-assisted performances. A sixth-place finish with 7258 points was a stunning effort. Ollie Thorner (Alan Richardson, Wells City Harriers) was 12th overall, with a handful of PBs contributing to his score of 6982 points.

Turner started his day with his fifth personal best out of six, clocking a 14.07 (+1.6) over the 110m hurdles (91cm) which moved him up to fifth in the overall standings, just 125 points outside the bronze medal position. In the same heat and in the outside lane, Thorner posted a solid time of 14.67 which saw him move to 12th.

They re-emerged for the discus (1.5kg) which was very rewarding for Thorner, who revised his personal best with an effort of 38.92m, an improvement by 62cm. Turner’s best attempt came in round two with a mark of 39.74m.

During the pole vault, Turner achieved his sixth personal best out of eight events, clearing 3.70m under pressure on his third and final attempt. His compatriot cleared 4.10m. Later in the javelin (500g), Thorner threw 38.50m on his final attempt after two fouls, while Turner earned a mark another career best of 52.22m, pulling it out of the bag in the opening round.

Both were outside their bests in the 1500m; Thorner crossing the line in 4:38.36 for 690 points and Turner 4:46.55 for 640 points. It was the end of a very long two days for the athletes.

There was a fine fifth place finish for Preston’s Jasmine Jolly (Peter Crook) in the girls 400m hurdles final, crossing the line in a lifetime best of 59.79, only her second time under the minute barrier.

Running in the outside lane, she powered through in the final stages of the contest but she could not quite bridge the gap to the medal places.

After celebrating his 17th birthday yesterday, Ben Thomas (Neil Thomas, Carmarthen & District Harriers) continued the festivities in the European U18 2000m steeplechase final, placing ninth in personal best of 5:52.59 after a hard-fought contest.

The Welshman had to overcome a crash into a barrier to progress through his heat on Friday evening, but had a clean race this time around, moving his way through the field in a well-judged effort.

In the triple jump, Lily Hulland (Paco Mentesinos, Cueva de Nerja) sadly fouled on three occasions which brought her competition to an end early.

Full results can be found here: http://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-youth-championships/2018/schedules-results/


British Athletics Medal Tally (9):

Gold (6):

Sam Bennett – 110m Hurdles

Max Burgin – 800m

Kane Elliott – 1500m

Keely Hodgkinson – 800m

Thomas Keen – 3000m

Dominic Ogbechie – High Jump

Silver (2):

Ethan Brown – 400m

Emily Williams – 1500m

Bronze (1):

Karl Johnson – 400m Hurdles