29th July 2020


At the European Under-20 and Under-23 Championships over the years, we’ve seen a whole host of athletes come away with silverware, championship, and even British records.

Winning one medal at the championships is hard enough, but earning a 1-2 is a prestigious moment at any international championship and the performances of some of those highlighted below has helped to kickstart them on the road to even bigger things in the sport.

On 25 occasions, we have seen British athletes occupy the top two spots at age group championships and we’ve picked out some of the most memorable moments from years gone by to focus on.


Golden Gavle for Reekie and Baker

In 2019, Jemma Reekie wrote her name into the history books as the first British woman to win double gold at the European Under-23 Championships in Gavle, Sweden.

Arriving in Sweden, Reekie faced the prospect of having a race on every single day of the four-day championship as she went for the 800m and 1500m double, a daunting prospect for any middle-distance runner to put their body through four championship races in such a short space of time.

Arriving into Sweden, Reekie had set a new 800m personal best in Germany the month before of 2:01.45, earning her the blue vest as the European leader.

Baker meanwhile was looking to upgrade on the silver she won in 2017 in the European Under-20 Championship two years previous, where she finished behind Khy Mhlanga, and had put together a consistent run of results over the course of the outdoor season.

Kilbarchan’s Reekie started on the right foot in her bid for double gold, by qualifying fastest for the final with a measured run in the final of the three heats, stopping the clock in 2:04.74.

Only moments earlier, 2017 Under-20 800m silver medallist Ellie Baker (Jon Bigg; Shaftesbury Barnet) had successfully booked her place in the final, winning her heat in 2:07.14 with a very comfortable showing in heat two.

With no semi-finals, Baker had the advantage of extra recovery time, while Reekie went in the heats of the 1500m on July 12, making no mistakes whatsoever as she made it safely into the final.

Starting in lanes three and four respectively, the British duo hit the bell having gone through the first 400m in 65.85s following a scrappy first lap from all in the field. Entering the final 250m, Baker hit the front with Reekie in hot pursuit, the latter kicking as she hit the 200m mark.

Reekie opened up a good five metre lead from Baker on the home straight to take her first of two golds for the championships in 2:05.19, with Baker working hard to keep hold of the silver medal, stopping the clock in 2:06.33 to ensure both women were on the podium.

Iconic 1-2-3 for British stars in Boras

Only a matter of days after Reekie and Baker’s magnificent 1-2 in Gavle, the men’s 800m race at the European Under-20 Championships in Boras, Sweden, was a spectacle in itself courtesy of three plucky Brits.

Ben Pattison, Oliver Dustin and Finley McLear arrived in Sweden as the three hottest properties on the 800m circuit at the championships, occupying second, third and fourth position in the European rankings respectively, behind fellow Briton Max Burgin, who missed the championships through injury.

On the second day of competition, McLear was the first man to secure his place in the final with a 1:48.82 run to ease through into the final, followed by Pattison in the following heat, who also made comfortable progress, finishing second behind Saveliy Savlukov (ANA) in 1:52.07, and Dustin made it three from three in the final heat, winning in 1:51.85.

The final was yet another tactical affair, with Pattison in the leading trio at the bell, before McLear and Dustin began to make their moves round the outside with 200m to go.

Coming off the final bend, the Brits had opened up massive daylight between themselves and the chasing pack and it was a straight sprint between the trio for the title. McLear and Pattison hit the front with Dustin breaking through in the second lane.

The Border Harrier had timed his charge to perfection and pipped Pattison to gold in 1:50.56, with Pattison forced to settle for silver in 1:50.68. Behind them, McLear, who had been losing his balance with 40m to go, inexplicably defied gravity to keep himself upright for long enough to ensure he had a bronze medal to take home in 1:51.19, completing Britain’s first clean sweep at the championships since 2007.

Efoloko heads off Dobson for maiden world title

In 2018, teenage sprinting sensations Jona Efoloko and Charlie Dobson wowed the world as they became the first British duo to secure a World U20 Championship 1-2 in over 30 years as they ruled supreme in Finland.

Heading into the season, Dobson had a personal best of 21.20s, set as he finished second at the English Schools Championships, but by the start of the outdoor season, he had completely blown that time out of the water with a 20.73s clocking in Essex, achieving the World U20 qualifying standard at the first attempt.

Efoloko also wasted no time in grabbing himself the standard, a 20.84s clocking at the Loughborough International put him in the driving seat by winning the trial event in Bedford with another standard, 20.79s his winning time in favourable conditions.

From the off in Finland, it was evident to see that the British duo were not just there to make up the numbers as they both romped to victory in their heats, stopping the clock in exactly the same time of 20.65s, Dobson winning his heat by more than six tenths of a second.

In the semi-finals, Dobson emerged as the man to beat as he broke his personal best for the second time in as many days with an impressive 20.53s showing into a slight headwind that once again saw him the fastest man through to the final, closely followed by Efoloko, his 20.74s ensuring there was a strong chance for a British medal.

The final was on what proved to be a fantastic Friday for the British team as they claimed three gold medals and a silver, led by Niamh Emerson’s spectacular heptathlon performance in changing conditions and Jake Norris’ British U20 record in the men’s hammer.

In the last track action of the day, the dynamic duo made sure it would be a day to remember as they raced home in style. Efoloko surged out of the blocks along with Dobson and the duo had a slender lead as they came off the bend, with American Eric Harrison chasing hard.

While others around them were tiring, Dobson continued his charge for the title, only for Efoloko, the silver medallist from the 2017 European U20 Championships, to find another gear and take the title in 20.48s, another personal best for the Manchester-based man, with Dobson claiming his first international medal in a British vest.

It was the first time since 1986 that a British duo had stood on the podium in first and second position, when Colin Jackson and Jon Ridgeon took a 110m hurdles 1-2 in Athens.

Double Delight in 1985 for 200m and 110m Hurdles Duo

In 1985 at the European Under-20 Championships, Great Britain & Northern Ireland secured two one-two finishes in a matter of days as Jon Ridgeon and Colin Jackson took a 1-2 in the 100m hurdles and were followed in locking out the top two places by Ade Mafe and Richard Ashby in the 200m.

Jackson took the initiative in the second of three heats and threw down the fastest time of qualifying with a 13.97s clocking in favourable conditions, with Ridgeon ensuring both Britons went through as winners of their heats as he clocked 14.08s for a comfortable win.

The duo were the clear favourites in the semi-finals and it was Ridgeon who responded to Jackson’s rapid clocking in the heats as he went through to the final fastest of all, owed to a stellar 13.75s clocking, with Jackson booking his place in the final in the second heat, pushing through the headwind to win in 14.05s.

In the final, the duo lived up to their billing as the ones to watch, dominating the field to once again go sub-14 seconds to take the top two places. Ridgeon’s faultless performance earned him a season’s best of 13.46s as he blew the rest of the field to smithereens, with Jackson following him home in 13.69s.


Honourable Mentions for the best of the rest

At the 2009 European Under-23 Championships in Lithuania, another brace of 1-2s was achieved on the track as the women’s 400m hurdles duo of Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child took gold and silver in personal best times of 55.26s and 55.32s respectively, while Harry Aikines-Aryeetey led home British 100m 1-2-3 for the men. He, Leevan Yearwood and Rion Pierre all notched season’s best marks of 10.15s, 10.26s and 10.28s respectively.

The first British 1-2 at a European U23 Championship came at the 2003 instalment of the championships as Chris Thompson held off Mo Farah in a 5000m sprint finish to take his first gold medal for the British team in 13:58.62, with Farah second in 13:58.88.

2015 proved to be the year of the British 1-2 at the European U20 Championships in Eskilstuna, Sweden, as the British team took four top-two finishes in Scandinavia. There was double delight in the 100m and 200m as Ojie Edoburun led Joseph Dewar home in gold medal position, the duo clocking 10.36s and 10.46s respectively, with Tommy Ramdhan edging Elliot Powell to the 200m crown in 20.57s to Powell’s 20.72s.

One-lap specialist Laviai Nielsen showed her best form as she fought off the lactic to win the women’s 400m in 52.58s, with Cheriece Hylton achieving a PB of 53.16s for second position, while over 1500m, Bobby Clay took an emphatic two-and-a-half second win from teammate Amy Griffiths, in 4:17.91 to 4:20.41.