21st August 2022
GB & NI MEN WIN 4X100M GOLD IN CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD ON FINAL NIGHT IN MUNICH
The Great Britain and Northern Ireland 4x100m men’s relay team broke the European Championship record and Jake Wightman (coach: Geoff Wightman; club: Edinburgh AC) claimed 800m silver as Great Britain & Northern Ireland finished second in the medal table in Munich.
In the penultimate event of the night, the men’s quartet of Jeremiah Azu (Helen James; Cardiff), Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills; Shaftesbury Barnet), Jona Efoloko (Clarence Callender; Sale Harriers Manchester) and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Ryan Freckleton; Newham & Essex Beagles) put together a faultless race to break the European Championship record, clocking 37.67s.
Bronze medallist in the 100m Azu flew out of the blocks and handed European 200m champion Hughes, who gave the British team a slim lead at the second changeover. Efoloko ran an excellent bend and provided Mitchell-Blake with a metre buffer, allowing him to storm to the title.
Hughes, who claimed his second gold medal of the championships, said: “I feel really proud of myself. To come out here with the guys again and get the job done was most important, hit the check marks and get the baton round as smoothly as possible. To come away with my second gold medal of the championship tonight is an amazing feeling for me.”
Mitchell-Blake added: “It’s a great feeling first and foremost to come out with the gold and to get a championship record is a bonus along with the win. It’s testament to the guys who ran in the heats, Tommy [Ramdhan] and Harry [Aikines-Aryeetey] who got us here. It’s a true team effort and it’s nice to end a third championship with a gold.”
Wightman added the European 800m silver medal to his 1500m World Championship gold and Commonwealth Games bronze medals, with teammate Ben Pattison (Dave Ragan; Basingstoke and Mid Hants) taking a well-earned sixth spot.
A steady start to proceedings saw the field hit the bell at 52.06s through the opening lap with Wightman and Pattison well placed in the middle of the pack and looking strong.
Wightman made his move with 200m to go, moving into lane two and stealing a march on World Indoor champion Mariano Garcia (ESP), but the Scot found himself edged out in the final metres, clocking a season’s best 1:44.91 with Pattison stopping the clock in 1:45.63.
Wightman reflected: “I came into this really wanting to add to my world 1500m title just because I feel like that would’ve been a great way to end the season. I felt in shape to do it and I got very close, but I’ve got a gold, a silver and a bronze on the season so at least I’ve got a full set.
“I knew that I needed to be a lot closer than I was through the rounds. Garcia finishes very strong and I felt as though I was in the right place and I was wiling him to come back. When you’re running like that the gaps don’t change much and I thought I had the strength to help me through but I didn’t quite have enough and towards the end it never really came back.”
The women’s 4x100m relay squad of Asha Philip (Amy Deem; Newham & Essex Beagles), Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Stuart McMillan; Sutton & District), Ashleigh Nelson (Leon Baptiste; City of Stoke) and Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie; Blackheath & Bromley) sadly did not get the baton round.
Team captain Nelson reflected afterwards: “We’re a team. We win together we lose together whatever happens out there when we come back in, we talk about it and we sort it out. We’re a team and that’s the start and finish of it.”
Asher-Smith added: “We’re a team, we have seen it all. We’re such a strong squad and I feel we know what we’re capable of, we have a phenomenal time in us and unfortunately this is why the relays, and the hurdles are everyone’s favourite events because there’s so many factors to get right.
“We’ve been so consistent over the years, we’re global medallists and were reigning champions and that doesn’t come without being excellent. Things happen and it’s unfortunate but it’s OK, we just grow from it.”
Morgan Lake (Robbie Grabarz: Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) rounded off her women’s high jump competition with a best effort of 1.90m, good enough for equal seventh position.
Lake made light work of the opening heights, showing a clean card up to 1.90m, which she cleared at the third time of asking with an excellent leap. Despite three good attempts at 1.93m, Lake was unable to improve on her mark, bowing out of the competition.
Lake reflected: “I’m just super, super disappointed really. It’s my fourth European Championships, and I really thought this would be the time that I would start to medal and fulfil my potential but it’s just not there at the moment.
“When you get a third attempt at a height like that (1.90m) it does take a lot of energy out of you. Using all that emotion means it is hard to get yourself up for the next height. I need to work on getting those first attempts and calming myself and going for the next one.”
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Cindy Sember (Jeff Porter; Woodford Green Essex Ladies) took eighth place in the final of the women’s 100m hurdles, clocking 13.16s (-0.1) as teammate Jessica Hunter (Scott Grace; Shaftesbury Barnet) bowed out in the semi-finals.
Sember made light work of her semi-final, cruising to victory in 12.62s (0.1), the fastest qualifier of all. In the final, Sember got out brilliantly but clattered into the second hurdle that saw her drop well behind the leaders. She regained her composure but could not reel the field in.
Hunter finished eighth in her semi-final, crossing the line in 13.43s (0.3). Hunter looked to be progressing well in the early stages but came undone as she hit hurdle seven and faded out of the race.
In the 10,000m, Emile Cairess (Alan Storey; Leeds City) rounded off his maiden European Championships with an 11th place finish, pipping teammate Marc Scott (Jerry Schumacher; Richmond and Zetland) finished 12th, while Sam Atkin (Mike Collins; Lincoln Wellington) was forced to withdraw with seven laps to go.
Scott sat right on the shoulder of early leader Jimmy Gressier (FRA) throughout the opening laps, with Atkin and Cairess flanking him as the laps wore on and the pace ebbed and flowed. Cairess took the pace on through the 6,000m mark but quickly dropped back behind the leaders following his spell in the lead.
With around five laps to go, Cairess and Scott found themselves fading off the leading group, coming home in 28:07.37 and 28:07.72 respectively, the latter being Scott’s first 10,000m race of the season.
Cairess reflected: “That was rubbish. It’s easy to be in the right place when the race isn’t going yet but when the guys aren’t pushing it, but as soon as it got moving I couldn’t and I felt like my legs didn’t have anything from the beginning. Training has been way better than this.
“It wasn’t good for me I was hoping for much better, I just didn’t feel it and it was hard work. I wanted it to be a fast race because I thought I was, no I know I am in good shape. I didn’t want loads of people there at the end, but my legs weren’t cooperating at the end. But it can’t always go your way!”
Christian Malcolm, Olympic Head Coach reflected, “I am really proud of how this team have applied themselves at these Championships, especially at the end of a very busy summer. For some athletes, this was their first Champs of the season, for others, they’d competed Oregon and Birmingham. This was not an easy task for athletes and their coaches to compete in such an intense spell but the success in terms of medals, personal bests, season bests and the number of athletes reaching major finals is incredibly encouraging for the future of the sport in the country.
“During my time as Head Coach, I’ve been fortunate to work with a great group of athletes and coaches across a number of disciplines, so I want to say a big thank you for their hard work and dedication. For some, they achieved great success this summer. For others, it may not have gone their way, or they may have experienced injuries and illness. It’s about how you pick yourself up and using that support network around you to come back even stronger for the opportunities ahead. I’m proud of those who have stepped up and produced their best in the biggest summer season during my time in the role.
“There has been success across a number of event groups, as we have seen at these European Championships. Medals in the sprints and jumps, a first ever discus medal, and lots of success in the middle distance events. I know some events have their cycles and it’s clear we’re in a really strong era for the middle distance athletes. You only have to look at the UK Champs each year to see how hard it is to get into the GB & NI team. That level of competition combined with some great coaching and several world-class athletes means they are getting into finals and with that comes medal winning performances.
“We’ve seen some great moments over the summer, and I have no doubt the team will continue to improve over the next few years. With the World Champs again next year and Paris one year later, I’m really excited for the sport and I wish everyone all the best over the next few years.”
Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal tally (20):
Gold: Keely Hodgkinson 800m
Gold: Matthew Hudson-Smith – 400m
Gold: Zharnel Hughes – 200m
Gold: Laura Muir – 1500m
Gold: Men’s 4x100m relay
Gold: Men’s 4 x 400m relay
Silver: Dina Asher-Smith – 200m
Silver: Eilish McColgan – 10,000m
Silver: Jake Heyward – 1500m
Silver: Zharnel Hughes – 100m
Silver: Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake – 200m
Silver: Jake Wightman – 800m
Bronze: Jeremiah Azu – 100m
Bronze: Lizzie Bird – 3000m Steeplechase
Bronze: Daryll Neita – 100m
Bronze: Alex Haydock-Wilson – 400m
Bronze: Eilish McColgan – 5000m
Bronze: Lawrence Okoye – Discus
Bronze: Jazmin Sawyers – Long Jump
Bronze: Women’s 4 x 400m relay