18th August 2022

Heyward, Sawyers and McColgan grab European medals on a thrilling evening in Munich

Jake Heyward (coach: Mark Rowland; club: Cardiff) surged to 1500m silver and Eilish McColgan (Liz Nuttall; Dundee Hawkhill) and Jazmin Sawyers (Lance Brauman; City of Stoke) added brilliant 5,000m and long jump bronzes to the British medal tally on the fourth evening of European Championships action in Munich.

After a rain-delayed start, Heyward produced a polished performance to claim his first senior medal in the men’s 1500m, finishing behind world silver medallist Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR) in 3:34.44.

Ingebrigtsen led the race from almost gun to tape, splitting the field up at the bell with a big surge, with Heyward well poised for a medal in fourth spot.

He made his move with 200m to go, sitting on the shoulder of Mario Garcia (ESP) and picking him off on the home straight, powering to silver behind the Norwegian, who clocked a championship record of 3:32.76.

Reflecting on his first senior medal, Heyward said: “The race went how I expected it to go, I knew Jakob was probably going to string it out at some point so that is why I tracked him. I stayed patient and obviously winning a silver medal is an incredible achievement. But I am disappointed that I couldn’t go with him and push him for the gold. He almost ran a separate race.

“You don’t want to be too aggressive in these types of races. I tried to do that on Monday and almost didn’t qualify for the final. I did similar in Birmingham (for Commonwealths) but I didn’t feel as good today as I did last week.

“On Monday I was ill, and I’ve got better in the last 72 hours but I still wasn’t right today. You just know as an athlete where your body is at. It’s disappointing because I genuinely think I’m at the level to push Jakob.”

Matthew Stonier (Chris & Sonia McGeorge; Invicta East Kent) finished incredibly strongly in the final 200m and cut the tape fifth in 3:35.97, with Neil Gourley (Ben Thomas; Giffnock North) eighth in 3:38.40.

After grabbing silver in the women’s 10,000m earlier in the week, McColgan added the bronze medal to her championship haul with a strong performance, stopping the clock in 14:59.34.

A steady pace early on saw the field well bunched until Turkey’s Yasemin Can stepped the pace up with six laps to go, followed by McColgan, with Amy-Eloise Markovc (Chris Fox; Wakefield) and Calli Thackery (Vince Wilson; Hallamshire Harriers) sitting in the chasing pack.

As Can faded, Konstanze Klosterhalfen (GER) took her chance and surged to gold, with McColgan holding her form down the home straight to take third, with Markovc and Thackery claiming fifth and sixth spot respectively in 15:08.75 and 15:08.79 respectively.

McColgan said afterwards: “Everyone thought I was mad wanting to do the double or three, but I’ve got four medals and four medals more than I did at the start of the year and I’m just so proud. Of course I’d love to win a European title but it was always going to be a tough ask after the Commonwealth Games.

“We have another two years until the Europeans and I’m sure there’ll be another gold there one day, but a silver and a bronze, I had nothing else today. I was looking around thinking ‘I just need to get to the line and not lose this medal’. I’m very tired but proud.”

World and Commonwealth finalist Sawyers saved her best until last to secure herself a spot on the European rostrum for the first time in six years, jumping out to 6.80m (1.0) in round six for bronze.

Sawyers’ first leap of the competition of 6.69m (2.1) had her in fourth position heading into the final round, trailing Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk by seven centimetres. It all came together for Sawyers when it mattered with an 11cm improvement to move up into third spot.

An elated Sawyers said: “I’ve finally got a medal again, I’m so happy. My goal for the summer was to get a medal at every champs and I was starting to think ‘have you failed at your entire goal’ and I knew I was good enough to get a medal today.

“All the way through the comp I kept getting it wrong, not jumping right, fouling, but I knew I had it in me. I was standing at the top of the runway on that final jump thinking ‘you cannot leave here without a medal’ and the 6.80m comes up and I lose my mind and then I think ‘this is what happened last time’.

“Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk was next to jump. Back in Berlin four years ago, the exact same thing happened and she moved up into silver and knocked me into fourth and I’m stood there going ‘what’s she going to do?’.

“But I held onto it and I’m so happy. It feels like it’s been a tough year but this, I know it’s a bronze, but it feels so good.”

Teammate Jahisha Thomas (Clive Roberts; Blackheath & Bromley) produced a best leap of 6.37m (0.1) in the first round, finishing in 10th position.

Commonwealth champion Nick Miller (Tore Gustafsson; Border) took eighth spot in the men’s hammer with a season’s best effort of 77.29m. Despite slipping on his release, Miller’s opening throw of 75.92m was good enough to put him in seventh spot at the halfway point and earn him three extra throws.

He improved in the final round to 77.29m, but it was not enough to earn him a spot on the podium, as Poland’s Wojciech Nowicki claimed a world lead of 82.00m for gold.

Miller said: “Me and my coach said before that a season best would be a win today. It came with the last throw of the competition, so I am over the moon. Being Cumbrian, I was fine with the rain, so the conditions didn’t bother me, it was fine for me.

“It has been a year full of setbacks, so to end it on a high, I am happy and I am just looking forward to next year.”

Commonwealth bronze medallist Jade O’Dowda (John Lane; Newham & Essex Beagles) rounded off her maiden European Championships with a seventh place finish in the heptathlon, ending the two-day event with 6187 points.

O’Dowda sat in ninth spot ahead of the 800m and shattered her personal best, finishing 2:12.03 for fifth place in the final event and moving up two spots in the final standings. Nafissatou Thiam (BEL) claimed the crown with 6628 points.

At the end of competition, O’Dowda remarked: “It was a PB in the 800m, going into it it’s what we set out to do, I knew that the girl behind me has a really good 800m so I knew she would go out hard. But then I knew I couldn’t go out hard, so I was trying to keep her in my sights and I felt like I had a lot to give at 150m to go so I just grit my teeth and just went for it and thankfully I hung on just about.

“I had two really good events in the high jump and 800m and everything else wasn’t really anything special, but it wasn’t anything awful they were all just solid so I think, with the performances I did I am happy with 7th place a good two days work! It was a good experience and hopefully one of many in future.”

In the men’s high jump final, Joel Clarke-Khan (Robbie Grabarz; Thames Valley) failed to clear the opening height of 2.18m in the testing conditions, bowing out of the competition without a mark.

He assessed afterwards: “Obviously it is the worst possible outcome but all I can think about now is that I am finished and this season has been more than I could ever have imagined. If you would have told me eight months ago that I would have represented GB at the Worlds and Europeans, and England at a home Commonwealth Games I wouldn’t have believed you.

“My coach told me I had the potential to jump 2.30m this season and I’ve done that. And I’ve reached a European final too, so although there is disappointment with tonight, the overriding feeling is that I’m happy with my season. Now I know what I can achieve next year and I’ll be a lot more prepared for the Championships then.”

Away from finals action, there was triple joy in the men’s 200m semi-finals as Charlie Dobson (Benke Blomkvist; Colchester), Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Ryan Freckleton; Newham & Essex Beagles) and Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills; Shaftesbury Barnet) all made safe progress into tomorrow’s final.

After running a relaxed, Hughes opened up in the home straight, qualifying fastest of all for the final in 20.19s (0.0) in the opening semi-final, with Dobson following suit in the second, striding to a comfortable victory in 20.21s (0.4). Mitchell-Blake made it three from three as he clocked 20.34s (-0.1), making his surge in the final 50m to take second spot and book his place in the final

Defending European 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie; Blackheath and Bromley) and Jodie Williams (Stuart McMillan; Herts Phoenix) made safe progress to the final with impressive runs in their respective 200m semi-finals.

After cramping up in the 100m final yesterday, Asher-Smith showed there was no hangover, outlining her quality over the field with a polished run, stopping the clock in 22.53 (0.0).

In the first semi-final, Williams was made to work for her spot in the final as she came off the bend but found the extra speed she needed to stop the clock in 23.03s (-0.3) for second spot.

Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal tally (9):

Gold:  Matthew Hudson-Smith 400m

Silver: Eilish McColgan – 10,000m

Silver: Jake Heyward – 1500m

Silver: Zharnel Hughes – 100m

Bronze: Jeremiah Azu – 100m

Bronze: Daryll Neita – 100m

Bronze:  Alex Haydock-Wilson – 400m

Bronze: Eilish McColgan – 5000m

Bronze: Jazmin Sawyers – Long Jump