Athletics: Five golden minutes reward the labours of Jackson and Hansen

European Athletics Championships: Experience pays off for hurdler and triple jumper before men's 100m and 400m quartets follow up in style

If giggling were an Olympic sport, Ashia Hansen and Colin Jackson would have medals to show for it. But their performances here on Saturday, when in the space of five golden minutes they won European titles at the triple jump and 110 metres hurdles respectively, were those of mature athletes in complete control of their talent.

For Jackson a level of expertise and self-knowledge built up over 17 seasons is about to become lost to the sport – he still plans to retire after next year's World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, by which time he will be 36.

That is a decision which was lamented by the 23-year-old Latvian Stanislavs Olijars, who was left in Jackson's wake as the Welshman won in 13.11 seconds to equal Steve Backley's feat of the previous night of earning four successive individual European golds.

"I think Colin Jackson is the greatest sprint hurdler there's ever been," Olijars said. "For me it's better if he would stay. I hope he will."

That hope is in vain. But for Hansen, now 30, a career that has been disfigured by injury and personal difficulties in the space of the last two years is coming together beautifully.

After collecting her second gold medal in the space of 11 days thanks to an outstanding final jump – her 15.00m here replaced the 14.86m with which she won the Commonwealth title at the top of this year's world rankings – she is looking forward with a confidence she has never felt before.

"I am using this year as a stepping stone to next year's World Championships and the 2004 Olympics, because I have still got a long way to go in terms of fitness," she said. "Next year is going to be a year I really come through – and then ever better the year after." The giggle occurs at this point. "It's worked out quite well really."

Hansen can make light of her problems, but she never forgets what she has been through. Throughout 2000, she had to compete in the knowledge that she would be ensnarled in a court case involving her former boyfriend, Chris Cotter, who was eventually jailed for obtaining money under false pretences and faking a racist incident outside her home.

In tandem with that mental stress, Hansen had to deal with an injury to her right foot so severe that she was eventually told by a specialist that if she did not have it operated on she would never jump again.

Without realising it, Hansen ruptured the planta fascia tendon on the sole of her foot while training in January 2000. As she unconsciously compensated to accommodate the problem, other injuries developed – four cracked toes, and, three weeks before the Sydney Olympics, a stress fracture.

"I was in pain from the moment I got up to the moment I went to bed," she recalled. "Even then I would have problems because the foot would cramp up. One day when I was training in January of last year I threw a tantrum because all my team-mates were moving on and I could just about run. I was starting to think that nobody believed I was in pain continuously."

Through the efforts of Charles van Commennee, the coach to Hansen's bitter rival Denise Lewis, a medical examination was arranged for her in Amsterdam, and after an MRI scan confirmed the rupture she was operated on in March last year.

"I had to learn to walk all over again," she said. "I had been walking on the side of my foot beforehand and jumping flat-footedly. So first I walked, then I jogged, then I progressed to skipping, then striding. Then I moved on to sprinting, and then long jumping, and finally triple jumping. I began by taking one step and then doing a hop, step and jump. Then I took it back to three steps and built up from there.

"One of the worst things for me was that when I originally got the injury I was in the form of my life. I was jumping ridiculous distances off a short run-up. I had done so much work, and lost so much weight I was partly in denial about the fact that I was actually injured. But I was always determined mentally to get back."

In terms of Hansen's three-year plan, 2002 has been a hugely successful hop. The step and jump should be worth watching.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sports Simulator / Home Cinema Installation Technician

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Simulation Tec...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Consultants - OTE up to £35,000

£15000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Franchise Operations Manager - Midlands or North West

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The position will be home based...

Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue