Britain's new wave adds shine amid the showers
Gateshead International Stadium
Monday 24 June 2013
For a good while on Sunday, the European Team Championships were in danger of being washed out – or flooded indoors.
Instead, after the Biblical downpour relented and the thunder and lightning ceased, the two-day competition drew to a conclusion with Russia standing high, if not particularly dry, as continental champions, ahead of Germany. As for the British squad, in their first outdoor engagement in the wake of London 2012, they were swept to third place and a record points tally on a wave of emerging young talent.
There were three British victories yesterday, courtesy of Tiffany Porter in the 100 metres hurdles and the men's and women's 4x400m relay quartets. That made it eight wins in total over the course of the weekend, double the tally achieved in Stockholm two years ago.
The class of 2013 also finished one place higher than the 2011 brigade, so Peter Eriksson could end his brief tenure as Charles van Commenee's successor as head coach with a degree of satisfaction.
"It's going to be really hard to leave after this," said Eriksson, who masterminded Britain's Paralympic success last summer and is returning to his home in Canada for family reasons. "We had more points than we expected. A lot of youngsters stepped up and had outstanding performances. Emilia [Gorecka] today and Jessica Judd yesterday were great."
They were that. On Saturday, 18-year-old Judd won the 800m and yesterday Gorecka, another teenaged debutant, produced a rousing finish to take the runner-up spot in the 5,000m, fending off Germany's Sabrina Mockenhaupt.
"The crowd really helped me in the home straight," the 19-year-old said. "I just legged it. Sometimes you don't realise you have an extra gear until you have to use it."
At 21, Sophie Hitchon still just about qualifies as a new wave member. The former ballet dancer from Burnley not so much legged it as chucked it, hurling out the hammer to 72.97m for a British record and third place.
Judd was one of five British winners on Saturday, together with Mo Farah (5,000m), Eilidh Child (400m hurdles), Perri Shakes-Drayton (400m) and the men's 4 x 100m quartet.
Yesterday, the men's pole vault and women's high jump had to be held in the indoor complex next door, away from the worst of the weather, while outside, Porter won the 100m hurdles in a wind-assisted 12.62sec. Then the two 4 x 400m squads, the women anchored by Christine Ohuruogu and the men by Richard Buck, provided a winning finale that sent the Tyneside crowd home wet but happy.
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