Grabarz reaches high to grab European gold for Britain

High-jumper Robbie joined by Welsh 400m hurdler in race to set standard for London

It's all about the timing. While their rivals laid their cards straight on the table in European Championship finals at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki last night, Robbie Grabarz and Rhys Williams kept their aces in hand until it mattered most. It earned gold for the Cambridgeshire high jumper and for the Welsh 400m hurdler, making it three in three nights for the British team in the Finnish capital, following Mo Farah's 5,000m victory on Wednesday.

There was also a silver lining for the Scottish 800m runner Lynsey Sharp, who flew past five rivals in the home straight to claim a medal to match the one won by her father Cameron in the 200m in Athens in 1982.

Grabarz held his nerve as he sat out the two opening heights in the high jump final. He then registered first time clearances at 2.24m and 2.28m to crank up the pressure on his rivals.

None of them could negotiate 2.28m at the first time of asking and that proved crucial. Grabarz and Raivyadas Stanys of Lithuania both cleared 2.31m at the second attempt before failing at 2.33m. All of which left Grabarz the winner on the countback system, and Britain with a European high jump champion for the first time since the Scot Alan Paterson prevailed in Brussels back in 1950.

There was bitter disappointment earlier in the day when Chris Tomlinson's miserable run of form continued in the long jump qualifying. The 30-year-old could only manage 7.84m, which ranked him down in 13th place, one short of the cut for tomorrow's final.

"I learned a lot about myself today," Grabarz said. "I came here to compete under the pressure of expectation. I was quite bold in saying that I came for the title. I wanted to put pressure on myself, as it's only going to get worse going into London. It will help me for the Games."

Even getting to the Games was in doubt for Williams when he arrived in Helsinki. Having fallen in the 400m hurdles final at the trials in Birmingham last weekend, he needed to outshine Nathan Woodward to secure the third spot in the team behind Dai Greene and Jack Green.

The 28-year-old son of the flying Wales and British Lions wing JJ Williams did it in style, holding back off the pace in the opening 300m before surging from fifth to a clear first in the home straight, in 49.33sec. "It has taken me nine years and loads of work to achieve this," he said. "I will enjoy this title. It means the world to me."

With Woodward finishing back in seventh in 50.20sec, Williams has a home Olympics for which to prepare. Whether Sharp has, though, is unlikely. She needed an A standard of 1min 59.90sec to make sure of Olympic selection. She was short of that but her stunning home straight charge brought her second behind Russian Yelena Arzhanova in 2:00:52, a lifetime best.

Elsewhere, Usain Bolt sailed through the 100m quarter-finals at the Jamaican Olympic trials, winning his heat in 10.09sec, while Oscar Pistorius fell short of the second Olympic A standard he required as runner-up in the 400m final at the African Championships in Benin.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam