10th June 2024


Charlie Dobson (Leon Baptiste, Colchester) produced the run of his life to claim a magnificent European silver medal in the men’s 400m, while Molly Caudery (Scott Simpson, Thames Valley) clinched a first-ever GB & NI senior outdoor medal with European bronze in the women’s pole vault on night four at the European Athletics Championships in Rome.

The second quickest athlete of those assembled in the field for the final, Dobson appeared to run a considered and controlled opening 200m to put himself in medal contention early on.

Motoring on between the 200m and 300m mark, Dobson stepped on the gas after swinging off the bend to jump into a straight fight for gold with Belgium’s Alexander Doom. Appearing to edge into a brief lead by mere centimetres, Doom responded to Dobson’s pressure and surged ahead once more, with a scorching final 100m from both athletes seeing Doom take gold ahead of Dobson’s silver, the times 44.14 to 44.38.

Both times were incredibly noteworthy in their own right, with Dobson’s time a huge revision of his personal best – his previous quickest 44.46 – and a clocking which moved him into the top 10 all-time for a European, while Doom’s winning time of 44.14 was the second fastest time ever recorded by a European.

An elated Dobson said: “I was just focusing on my lane and my race. I executed the race perfectly. Me and my coach, Leon (Baptiste) discussed it going in, and I think I took the race really well up to 200m and 300m. I gave it everything down the backstraight. I was just trying not to stack it in the last 100m, my legs were turning to jelly in the last 20 metres, I was just screaming at myself to keep striding, keeping picking your feet up and putting them down. I got the job done and I am over the moon with it.

“I have huge respect for Alexander (Doom) and it is fantastic to race him. This is the eighth individual 400m of my career and most of them I have done I’ve been uncontested, so it was great to have someone to pull me around. It paid off, I got a tenth off my best and a silver medal.

“This is already far more than I expected this season to be honest. I would have been happy with one sub 45 to get the Olympic standard, but this on top of everything so far this season, is incredible.”

Having sailed through qualifying with just one vault two days ago, Molly Caudery started as she meant to go on in the women’s pole vault final with a first-time clearance at 4.58m. The 24-year-old failed with a first attempt at 4.68m, but kept her cool amid the humid conditions to go clear on at the second time of asking, being joined at the following height of 4.73m by Katerina Stefanidi (GRE) and Angelica Moser (SWI) in a three-way shoot out for gold.

With Stefanidi leading the competition at this stage courtesy of her first-time efforts at both 4.68m and 4.73m, Caudery took two runs at 4.73m to go clear, with both Stefanidi’s cleaner scorecard and Moser’s subsequent clearance at 4.78m leading Caudery to go for broke by moving the bar to 4.83m.

Ultimately there would be no big-bang clearance from the world indoor champion, as she was made to settle for European bronze to add to a growing prize collection, with a see-sawing competition seeing Moser take the title with what was a Swiss national record mark, while 2016 Olympic champion Stefanidi claimed silver.

Reflecting on the performance, Caudery said: “I‘m a little bit disappointed. If I told myself a year ago I would be bronze medallist at the European championships I would have been over the moon, and I have expectations of myself which are high.”

“A bronze is still a great achievement, and I learned a lot tonight, but I would have liked to come away with a slightly higher height. 4.73m isn’t the shape I am in: I had a great jump at 4.83m and just clipped the bar with my elbow. There is more fire in the belly, a medal is still great and when I reflect I will feel better.”

Taking to the track ten minutes after the men’s equivalent, Laviai Nielsen (Tony Lester, Enfield and Haringey) lined up in the final of the women’s 400m fresh from a personal best run of 50.73 during yesterday’s qualifying rounds.

In what was a stacked finale to the event this year, Nielsen committed early and strongly over the 200m to try and keep in touch with the podium positions. With the fight for gold being hammered out between Poland’s Kaczmarek and Ireland’s Adeleke, Nielsen tussled for the highest finish possible after coming off the bend with little to separate 5th and 8th.

Running all the way through the line, Nielsen would take sixth place overall, with her grit and persistence rewarding her with another brilliant personal best of 50.71.

Reflecting post-race, Nielsen said: “I was happy with that. Maybe I was a bit phased by the race that was going on around me, so I had to claw it back it and push on in the home straight, but I am happy to come away with another PB.”

Lining up in her first European final as a senior athlete, Anna Purchase (Mohamed Ali Saatara, Notts) represented Great Britain & Northern Ireland in the women’s hammer final having navigated her qualifying pool yesterday morning.

Kicking off with openers of 68.15m and 65.78m in rounds one and two respectively, Purchase dug out a throw of 69.24m in round three to move info eighth place and secure another further three throws.

Further throws of 65.96m and 65.84m would follow in rounds four and five, before Purchase concluded her competition with a no-throw, her third-round best of 69.24m ultimately good for an eighth-place finish.

“It is my first time getting six throws at a major championships, and getting top eight in Europe,” said Purchase.

“I really fought for that result. I have been struggling a bit with my connection so I wasn’t quite at my best, so even though they weren’t my best throws, I was still out there competing.

“I know I can throw far, and I knew I was worth the top 8, so on the third throw, I just had to do it! I felt like I had to adjust a few things during the competition, and there is a lot of pressure. I have the B (UKA) standard looming over me which I know I need to get for the Olympics, so I just had to focus.”

The final British athlete in action, Mark Pearce (Luke Gunn, Shaftesbury Barnet) claimed a 13th place finish in the men’s 3000m steeplechase with a time of 8:26.92.

Running in what was his first major senior final, Pearce settled into his own running as many surges played out ahead of him, with his final placing being the very position he held throughout the duration of the race.

Post-race, Pearce said: “I hope that I would have more to improve my PB in that race, but it was hard so early. Delighted to be in the final and hopefully that’s experience I can use going forwards.

“Just seeing how the best athletes in the country prepare for competition has been really insightful, and the level of attention to detail and planning that has gone into this has opened my eyes to what is possible and the stuff I could be doing. Just learning from my competitors, too – they were tough fighters in the heats, and they turned up today, but I don’t think I quite did. It is definitely something to build on.”

The only British athlete in qualifying action on the night, there was also a supremely dominant performance from European leader Daryll Neita (Marco Airale, Cambridge Harriers) as she sauntered through to tomorrow’s 200m final.

Coming into the championships in arguably the form of her life, Neita looked the picture of calm and control from the gun, taking the stagger out of those on the outside lanes over the first 100m to come off the bend in the lead.

Extending away down the home straight with the rest of the field some five metres behind, Neita clocked 22.51 (+0.5) to take the win, the fastest time through the three semi-finals and a time just shy of Neita’s season’s best set just last week.

Neita said: “It was a cool first round – just to get the feel of the track and kind of stretch my legs out a little bit – it was really good. I feel like I will run a lot better tomorrow.”


Great Britain & Northern Ireland medal tally:

GOLD: [2]: Women’s Half Marathon Team, Dina Asher-Smith – Women’s 100m

SILVER [3]: George Mills – Men’s 5000m, Georgia Bell – Women’s 1500m, Charlie Dobson – Men’s 400m

BRONZE [4]: Lizzie Bird – Women’s 3000m steeplechase, Romell Glave – Men’s 100m, Calli Hauger-Thackery – Women’s Half Marathon, Molly Caudery – Women’s Pole Vault

Results: https://live.european-athletics.com/ECH2024/lrs/home