No, not the Euro 2016 in France but the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam, where Britain finished third on the medals table behind surprise winners Poland and Germany. GB’s athletes gained 16 medals, including five of the brightest hue, with a gold rush on the final day in the relays. Even the often butter-fingered men’s 4x100m quartet ran brilliantly to a European title.
The men’s sprint relay success came just three minutes after Andy Murray had secured his second Wimbledon singles trophy and was largely overlooked in the sporting echelon that naturally put huge events at SW19, Silverstone, Paris and 185kms of mountains in the Tour de France well ahead in the pecking order.
That was a pity as Sunday (10 July) featured an incredible men’s 5000m, with Ilias Fifa (Spain), Adel Mechaal (Spain) and Richard Ringer (Germany) awarded the medals in the same time (13:40.85) and Henrik Ingebrigtsen (Denmark, 13:40.86) and Mourad Amdouni (France, 13:40.94) fractions behind. Jonathan Taylor (13th, 13:55.20) and Jonny Davies (16th, 14:04.13) were the GB finalists.
On Friday (8 July) the men’s 10,000m saw a gutsy personal best performance from Dewi Griffiths (5th, 28:28.55) and Saturday’s action included a fine bronze in the women’s 5000m for Steph Twell (15:20.70), together with fifth for Laura Whittle (15:24.18) and sixth for Eilish McColgan (15:28.53) – if only there had been a team race!
Sunday morning saw the traditional marathon replaced by a half marathon team challenge. This worked well for TV and spectators on the tight, city centre course. The women started 20 minutes ahead of the men, which added to the interest at the finish. Sara Moreira (Portugal, 1:10:19) took gold and Gemma Steel (10th, 1:12:19) led GB to seventh place, supported by Alyson Dixon (13th, 1:12:47), Lily Partridge (53rd, 1:16:57) and Tina Muir (59th, 1:17:23). The men’s race was won by Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland, 1:02:03), with Callam Hawkins ninth (1:03:57) followed by Matthew Bond (42nd, 1:07:00), Lee Merrien (52nd, 1:07:29) and Jonny Hay (77th, 1:10:08), as GB finished ninth.
Neil Black, the performance director for British Athletics, reflected on the Championships, saying: “I look at the medal tally and see five gold, three silver, eight bronze and sixteen in total. I see a number of athletes who have stepped up. Generally it has been a good performance and a learning experience as we look toward to the Rio Olympic Games next month.”
Full details at the European Championships website.