21st July 2019
THREE GOLDS & A CLEAN SWEEP FOR GB&NI AS EURO U20S END IN STYLE
Oliver Dustin (coach: Graeme Mason; club: Border), Ben Pattison (Dave Ragan; Basingstoke & Mid Hants) and Finley McLear (Kirk Salmon; Exeter) made history on the final night of the European Under-20 Championships as the British trio and the women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams helped GB&NI end top of the medal table with 15 medals in Boras – six gold, three silver and six bronze.
Dustin, Pattison and McLear swept the podium in a thrilling men’s 800m final, winning gold, silver and bronze in that order after a dramatic finish – achieving something that had never been done before by British athletes in the two-lap event, only in the men’s 200m.
The British women’s 4x400m relay team of Natasha Harrison (Alex O’Gorman; Stockport), Isabelle Boffey (Luke Gunn; Enfield & Haringey), Louise Evans (Linford Christie; Blackheath & Bromley) and Amber Anning (Lloyd Cowan; Brighton & Hove), completed a fantastic Championships for GB&NI with a dominant win – and European Under-20 lead 3:33.03 in the final. That saw Boffey complete a golden double after victory in the 800m and Anning also picked up a second medal after silver in the individual 400m.
The British women’s 4x100m relay team of Cassie-Ann Pemberton (Sharon Morris; Birchfield), Amy Hunt (Joe McDonnell; Charnwood), Georgina Adam (Jonas Dodoo; Loughborough Students) and Immanuela Aliu (John Blackie; Blackheath & Bromley) had set the tone for a golden final day by taking the title with an impressive 44.11 run – Hunt claiming her second crown of the Championships in what is a stunning year for the 17-year-old.
In total five medals were won on the closing night in Boras, pushing the British medal tally for the Championships to 15 and ensuring the GB&NI team finished as the top nation in the medal table by a distance.
There was a magnificent clean sweep in the men’s 800m as all three Britons shut out the medal positions to make history. In a frantic dust-up for the line, a fast-finishing Dustin won the battle, with Pattison holding off McLear to make sure three British flags would be raised at the medal ceremony.
Although Dustin sealed the win, with 250m to go he was sat in fourth behind the Russian Saveliy Savlukov while the other British duo looked set to occupy the top two places as they pushed on. However, a courageous effort from Dustin saw him overhaul McLear and Pattison, holding the better form and composure of the trio to claim the gold.
After his gold-medal moment, Dustin said: “What a race, what a battle. It was a scrappy race. It was a slow-ish first lap and it took a bit to wind it up. I just wanted to sit in a good position, track whoever was leading and then give it everything in the home straight. I had to give absolutely everything to get passed Ben. It was a brilliant battle. What a feeling to be on top of Europe.
“At the start of the year, I would have taken just getting here, now I’m the champion. What a feeling. I’m just so overwhelmed with emotion. I’ve worked so hard for this. So many miles in the winter, so many times I’ve been lying on the track on a horrible Tuesday night in Cumbria thinking ‘why do I do this?’ But this is why. To battle with the best and coming through strong.
“I can’t wait to get to victory ceremony with the guys. We all came into this wanting a one -two-three, and we all performed to the best of our ability. We just showed Europe how to run an 800m.”
Pattison made the big move at the bell, taking the inside line and pushing the pace, while McLear fought to stay on his shoulder, working hard around the top bend. But they could not do anything to counter Dustin’s sprint for the line, hanging on to earn silver and bronze medals for the British team.
Pattison said: “I went for it with 300m to go and my legs didn’t have it in the last five metres. Fair play to Oliver who had the legs. For me it is my first year in a new event, I was the youngest entered into the race, obviously I wanted gold but to come away with silver is better than I expected. I didn’t expect to be here. I am very happy with it.”
“[The result] does justice to how good our event is at the moment. Our best runner [Max Burgin] isn’t here at the moment and we have got the 1-2-3, I think that shows what is to come from British athletes in the future, especially in the 800m.”
McLear, who appeared to lose balance in his final few strides, added: “That was one of the strangest 800m of my life. Definitely one of the most aggressive. The first 400m was very slow so there was a lot of pushing and shoving. It was more like a boxing match.
“On the second lap, I just tried to get out of the way, so I didn’t get pushed around. I gave everything; I don’t think I pushed too early, I just left everything on the track. Unfortunately, I didn’t come away with the gold like I wanted to, but I’m very pleased with bronze. I’ve lost out to two fantastic racers.
“I’ve raced Ben twice this season and both times I’ve given him too much space, so I knew I had to stick on him and not worry about anyone else. Coming into that last 80m, I thought I had it, but my legs gave way when I started sprinting. I wanted gold but it’s special to win a medal.”
The British women’s 4x400m relay team rounded the Championships off in perfect style as they utterly dominated the final to win GB&NI’s 15th and final medal. Harrison set the team up with a fine opening lap before handing over to 800m champion Boffey, who powered around the final bend of her leg to really put the British team in front.
Evans ran a superb third leg to extend the margin and Anning was cool, calm and collected on a great victory lap as the British quartet clocked a European Under-20 leading time of 3:33.03 to leave Belarus, Poland, Ireland and Hungary scrapping for the minor placings.
Harrison said: “It was really good – I knew I needed to execute it just like my heat, and I managed that. I think I got a bit excited and went a bit fast down the back straight. It was all a bit dramatic as the rain was coming down. We were so ready for it and worked so well as a team.”
Boffey said: “I am buzzing. I was so confident in the ability of the whole team. We were always going for gold. I just had to go off fast, not slow and build into it like an 800m. I really used my 800m strength near the end to give Louise the best chance.
“[On setting a world U23 Lead] It just shows we have so much potential as a team. There are so many good juniors coming through, so it can only be encouraging for the future.”
Evans said: “I was really tired after running the [individual] 400m but the crowd were screaming all the way around and that just pushed me on.”
Anning said: “I’m so ecstatic for these girls. They set me up so well so I just had to maintain my form. It’s been a busy few days for all of us but I’m glad we could finish it off in such a good way. I’m so happy to come away from my first junior championships with two medals, and to do it with these girls is an added bonus.”
The British women’s 4x100m relay team ensured there was a golden start to proceedings on the final night in Boras as they ran a near-perfect race to claim gold. Pemberton got off to a flyer on leg one and Hunt – aiming for a golden double – ran a great second leg before Adam and Aliu combined to see the team home in 44.11.
Pemberton said: “That race felt amazing, everything went exactly to plan and I’m just so excited to be able to have done that with those girls and I can’t believe what we’ve managed that.”
Hunt said: “It’s incredible and it’s really special to have won a second [gold] medal alongside these girls. I know that all the hard work we’ve put in and all the sessions we’ve been through and all the work we’ve done has paid off. It’s a massive thanks to the coaches and the Futures Relay programme that we’ve been able to come out here and do something special.”
Adam said: “I’m just overwhelmed and thrilled I could do that alongside these girls, I knew we needed to carry on the speed we showed in our heat and we’ve done that.”
Aliu said: “It was such an amazing experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better one, it’s my first time as part of a Great Britain relay squad and I love these girls so much for all the hard work we’ve put in has paid off today and I’m so happy.”
In the women’s 5000m final there was an agonising fourth for Izzy Fry (Mick Woods; Newbury) as the leading trio proved just too strong to catch. Fry led the chasing pack as she clocked a time just outside her personal best, 16:24.50, with a coveted bronze medal just over 14 seconds away. Teammate Grace Brock (Cornwall) was also the leader of a pack chasing Fry’s group, finishing eighth in 16:43.00.
Fry said: “The medal contenders went off from the word go. I didn’t know how the race was going to pan out, if it was going to start slow or go off quick and obviously it went off quite quick. I thought ‘don’t go with that, I’ll probably blow up’. I ran a sensible first 3000m and with five laps to go, I went for it. It is a bit frustrating that the medals weren’t quite close enough. I tried but the gap was too big.”
In the penultimate event featuring a Brit, Erin Wallace (Andy Young; Giffnock North) battled valiantly to seventh in 4:30.08 in the women’s 1500m final. After reaching British squads for the major cross-country championships in the last few months, Rory Leonard (Morpeth) transferred his good form onto the track, crossing the line in ninth in the 5000m. His time was 14:28.56 after a rather cagey affair, with Spain’s Aaron Las Heras taking home the title.
In the men’s 3000m steeplechase final, the British duo of Remilekun Adebiyi (Darryn McAtee; Newport) and Kristian Imroth (Stephen Murphy; Shaftesbury Barnet) were 12th and 14th respectively. The former clocked a time of 9:17.81 while Imroth followed in 9:25.19. The British men’s 4x100m relay team were unfortunately disqualified.
British Athletics medal tally:
Isabelle Boffey – 800m
Oliver Dustin – 800m
Amy Hunt – 200m
Joshua Zeller – 110m Hurdles
Women’s 4x100m Relay
Women’s 4x400m Relay
Amber Anning – 400m
Seamus Derbyshire – 400m Hurdles
Ben Pattison – 800m
Keely Hodgkinson – 800m
Joshua Lay – 1500m
Lucy-Jayne Matthews – 100m Hurdles
Holly Mills – Long Jump
Finley McLear – 800m
Chad Miller – 100m