23rd July 2017


The Great Britain junior team enjoyed a stunning four days in the Italian city of Grosseto, equalling their best ever medal haul at a European Junior Championships with an outstanding 19 medals.

After ‘Super Saturday’, where the team won an unprecedented 11 medals in a single session, they backed it up with a further six on the final evening. Throw in a pair of medals from Friday evening and the 19 total is more than any other country and equals the performance in Rieti in 2013.

There was double delight in the women’s 1500m final as Jemma Reekie (coach: Andy Young) made amends for fourth in the 3,000m yesterday, storming to gold, whilst her teammate Harriet Knowles-Jones (Paul Roden) took bronze.

Reekie went all out for the win in the longer event, eventually paying the price over the last 400m, but today she bode her time, kicking clear over the final 200m to win by over three seconds in 4.13.25.

“I had so much motivation from yesterday not doing as well as I wanted and I just wanted to put it all out on the track today. I knew if I pulled it out the bag like I’ve been doing in training I could win a medal. My legs were a bit sore from the 3k and I wasn’t really meant to go until 120m [to go] but it was speeding up and I just went for it and it worked well.

“My training partner Laura Muir is incredibly good to me. I see Laura in training every day and she works so hard and I know that if I just keep on going the way I’m going I might be as good as her!”

Knowles-Jones finished strongly to take the bronze in 4.17.53, with Amelia Quirk (Beverley Kitching) who had led for a large portion of the race fourth in 4.19.23.

Just moments earlier in the men’s 800m Markhim Lonsdale (Keith Lonsdale) did almost everything right, placing himself just off the shoulder of the leader with 150m to go, but he couldn’t quite find the strength to overhaul his Croatian counterpart down the home-straight. None-the-less it was a superb silver in 1.48.82, just 0.12 down on the winner after a big negative split.

“I beat the lad who won quite comfortably in the semi and I felt really good with 200m to go and even better with 100m to go. I put my foot down and thought he would have died but he stepped it up another gear – I was chasing but it just wasn’t good enough.

“I knew it was never going to be easy but it just didn’t quite work out. I’m alright with silver but I would have preferred gold. The endurance team are doing really well and we’re enjoying the champs – it’s been a great experience.”

Both Lonsdale and Ben Greenwood (Catriona Tavendale) had a game plan to go to the front and slow it down, but the Croatian went to the front with 500m, and it paid off. Greenwood, finishing fast, couldn’t quite get up for a medal, fourth in 1.49.37.

A captain’s performance saw Scot George Evans (Colin McCulloch) pick up a brilliant bronze in the discus, the only British field medal of the day. Occupying the bronze medal position from round two, Evans knew his medal was secure before his last throw, where he improved to 59.05m.

“I’m speechless. It’s not been the best of seasons until now. I came out here and had the two best training sessions of my life and I’ve absolutely smashed it on the day – I’m delighted. Two years ago at the World Youths I finished in the same place, but then bombed out last year, but I learnt a mountain from that, which I put to use this year.

“The team’s been unreal! The first two bronze medals came on Friday and then Saturday was just a cascade of medals. I was back at the hotel preparing for my comp and watching on the stream and every half an hour there was another medal. I’m so proud of everyone on the team.”

There was also bronze for the women’s 4x100m quartet, a smooth run ensured they were on the podium alongside the winning German team who broke the junior world record in qualifying. Leading the team off was Ebony Carr (Mike Leonard), followed by 200m specialists Alisha Rees (Willy Russell) and Maya Bruney (John Blackie), before 100m fourth placer Olivia Okoli (Anthony Childs) brought the team home, getting the medal she so desired.

The team were naturally delighted, with Rees commenting:

“I didn’t come here to get fourth in my individual event, but to get a medal in the relay means so much more, especially with these girls – we’ve become such a unit.”

Carr added:

“I’m so grateful to be here, especially as I was only running the relay. Running with the girls was absolutely incredible and well done to Jazz and Hannah too who smashed it in the heats.”

As Carr said, Jazz Crawford (Piotr Spas) and Hannah Brier (Steve Fudge) both ran great legs in the heat, playing a key role in the team’s success.

The final medal of a fabulous championships came in the women’s 4x400m relay, Hannah Williams (Colin Gaynor) anchoring the team to bronze in 3.33.68. Having won the same colour medal in the individual event she came into the team for the final, as did 200m champion Maya Bruney (John Blackie), who split an incredible 51.7 to put them in second after two legs.

Mair Edwards (John Davis) delivered a strong opening run, Bruney bringing the team into the medal mix before handing over to Ella Barrett (Toni Minichiello) who more than held her own. Williams gave everything for gold, but in the end had to settle for bronze. Bruney summed things up:

“I would never have thought I’d come here and win three medals, it’s insane! What a team to do it with as well – it’s been an unbelievable journey. What a way to end the champs.”

In an exceptionally close men’s 4x100m relay the British team were denied a medal by the slimmest of margins, the three team’s ahead of them all setting records to deny them. Having run a quick 39.38 to win their heat, the quartet of Dom Ashwell (Marvin Rowe), Oliver Bromby (Sara MacDonald-Gray), Kristian Jones (Helen James) and Eden Davis (Catherine Walker) again combined well, but their 39.67 run in fourth was just 0.08 short of bronze.

There was disappointment for both William Battershill and Joel Leon Benitez (Alan Richardson), the former rolling his ankle in warm up and so unable to contest the 3,000m steeplechase final, an MRI thankfully showing no fracture, whilst Benitez no heighted in the pole vault.