Two pieces of silver fell into the grateful lap of UK Athletics in the space of 20 minutes here last night as Jeanette Kwakye broke the British record in the 60 metres and then Kelly Sotherton missed out on the pentathlon gold medal by a mere 15 points despite knocking two-and-a-half seconds off her indoor personal best for 800 metres in the last of the five events.
Despite earning identical rewards, the two athletes presented contrasting figures after their performances. Kwakye, a 26-year-old politics and economics graduate from Loughborough University, cavorted with joy on the infield after finishing just two hundredths of a second behind Angela Williams of the United States with a time of 7.08sec, knocking 0.05sec off the 22-year-old mark set by Bev Kinch which she had already equalled in the semi-final.
For Sotherton, the aftermath of the event involved a moment of reflection on the high bend of the track before walking purposefully forward to congratulate the winner, Tia Hellebaut, who had just managed to rise from the floor after collapsing over the line in her effort to prevent the Briton from beating her by a margin of more than seven and a half seconds. Hellebaut's finish, reminiscent of an exhausted marathon runner, earned her an overall total of 4867 points. Sotherton, despite a personal best of 2min 09.95sec, could only muster 4852.
The Belgian, who won the European high jump title two years ago, had established an overall lead after three events after producing a leap of 1.99m in her speciality, while Sotherton, who had won the opening 60m hurdles, could only manage 1.81 – seven centimetres below her best, dropping her to fifth place.
Things appeared to be taking an even worse turn for the Olympic bronze medallist in her fourth event when she came within one jump of dropping out of contention after failing to register a distance in the first two of her three efforts.
But she recovered her position with an exhibition of sang froid worthy of the absent and injured defending champion, Carolina Kluft, registering a season's best of 6.45m to reduce the gap to 50 points. The Belgian responded with her own season's best of 6.41, however, increasing her lead to 107 points.
Given Sotherton and Hellebaut's respective indoor personal bests over 800m – 2min 12.54sec and 2min15.13 – there was scope for the Briton to make up the difference in the final event. In the end, though, she blamed her third event, the high jump.
"I've been to eight major championships and won six medals now so I can't complain," she said. "But I do keep losing by teens. My high jump was piss-poor. I should at least have done 1.84 today."Reuse content