Relay teams fail to pick up the golden baton from Team GB

But podium finishes for men and women in 4x400m finals gain record medals haul
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The Independent Online

They could not quite bring their Midas touch to bear with a gold but in one respect at least the European Championships finished for the Great Britain team in the Montjuic Olympic Stadium last night just as they had started.

In the opening track final last Tuesday night Mo Farah ran his way into the history books, as the first ever Briton to win the men's 10,000m title. In the final event last night, the men's 4x400m relay quartet won medal number 19 for Britain.

That made it a record haul for a British squad in the 66-year history of the championships – eclipsing the 18 won by the class of 1990 in Split. Sadly, it was not a seventh gold to set alongside the brace won by Farah, who completed a track distance double with victory in the 5,000m the previous night, those that were also earned by Dai Greene (in the 400m hurdles) and Jessica Ennis (in the heptathlon) on what was truly a super Saturday for the British team, plus those won by Phillips Idowu in the triple jump last Thursday and Andy Turner in the 110m hurdles on Friday.

When it came to the anchor leg of the men's 4x400m, Martyn Rooney, the bronze-medal winner in the individual 400m, had too much ground to claw back to haul the British quartet into the gold medal spot. The big Croydon Harrier managed to get past Jonathan Borlee of Belgium into second place but couldn't catch the Russian anchor man, Vladimir Krasnov. The Russians prevailed in 3min 02.14sec, with the Great Britain four – Conrad Williams, Michael Bingham, Rob Tobin and Rooney – runners-up in 3:02.25.

"I really thought I was going to catch the Russian," Rooney said afterwards. "I should have. I'm really disappointed that I didn't."

And so, that was that for the European Championships of 2010. The British army of runners, jumpers and throwers had been set a medal target of "10 to 15". They exceeded it by four and only Russia, with 24, plundered more gold, silver and bronze. It prompted Rooney to proclaim: "Everybody talks about the glory years. Hopefully they can put that to bed now. We had 19 medals here and that's very strong."

Indeed it is, but six golds is three shy of the strongest British tally in that department. Ten of the Russian medals were gold. The French managed eight, with three coming from sprinter Christophe Lemaitre.

It was something of an anticlimactic last night for the British squad, following the rush of five golds from the preceding two days. Still, there were those who rose to the occasion. At 28, Chris Tomlinson won his first medal in an outdoor major championship: bronze in the long jump. And the women's 4x400m relay quartet of Nicola Sanders, Marilyn Okoro, Lee McConnell and Perri Shakes-Drayton earned a spot on the third step of the podium, too, finishing behind Russia and Germany in 3min 34.32sec.

They got there with a fine anchor leg by Shakes-Drayton, the 21-year-old Londoner who won bronze in the 400m hurdles final on Friday. "I've had a great championships," she said. "No-one expected me to get a medal and I've got two."

Sadly, there was no medal for Lisa Dobriskey in the 1500m. At the World Championships in Berlin last summer the Ashford woman won a silver on the final day. Last night she lined up in between Hind Dehiba of France and the Turk Asli Cakir, two of three reinstated doping offenders in the 12-strong field. The other, Russian Anna Alminova, started favourite.

The three former dopers stretched out ahead of Dobriskey at the front of the field from the start. When it came to the last 200m, though, the Spaniards entered the equation, Nuria Fernandez sweeping to victory in 4min 00.20sec and Natalia Rodriguez snatching bronze behind Dehiba. Dobriskey finished fourth in 4:01.54, missing out on a medal by 0.24sec. There was a lifetime best for Steph Twell in seventh, 4:02.70, while Hannah England finished back in 10th place.

"I am so disappointed," Dobriskey said, bursting into tears. "I went in with the attitude that it was gold or nothing. I raced a little more aggressively and made my move a little bit earlier and consequently I wasn't as strong as I would normally be in the finishing straight. I'm disappointed, but I couldn't have done any more today." Still, it must have been galling to lose a medal by such a slender margin to a rival who is just back from a two-year ban after testing positive for the blood-boosting drug erythropoietin, EPO? "I can only hope that the anti-doping system is fair and just," Dobriskey said. "I know they're doing the best they can. It was a clean race tonight."

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