Athletics: Shakes-Drayton’s Double Gold tops of European Indoor Championships

By Ros Satar

Britain’s athletes started and finished the day with gold to finish in 2nd place overall at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Göteborg, Sweden.

400m (W) Perri Shakes-Drayton started and ended the final day of the European Indoor Athletics Championships with gold medal performances in the individual 400m and the 4x400m relay.

Shakes-Drayton ran a commanding and focussed race and was rewarded with a world-leading time of 50.85s

Eilidh Child followed her in with a PB (51.45s) to get Silver, doubling GB’s medal haul so far in a single race.

Shana Cox had slotted into 3rd place briefly at the break, but tailed off towards the end, coming in 6th.

Shakes-Drayton had to keep herself grounded amidst a lot of expectation after her dominance in the early rounds.

“A lot of people were putting gold on me,” she said.

“I’m hoping it will benefit me when it comes to the outdoors.”

800m (M) Mukhtar Mohammed kept his composure well after getting elbowed a few times by Belarus’ Anis Ananenka earlier in the race, and in the final straight, to get a Bronze.

At times Mohammed had shown his relative inexperience in the early rounds, but kept his focus as the momentum took him to the line.

400m (M) Nigel Levine overcame a bit of bumping and barging from Russia’s Pavel Trenikhin in the closing straight, to take a silver behind Czech Republic’s Pavel Maslák.

The Russian had come sharply in front of him, forcing Levine wide.

Trenikhin made his point clear in the media mix-zone but the replay did appear to show that if anything, he had impeded Levine.

Perhaps amusingly, the Russians put in an appeal, which resulted in the Russian being disqualified for stepping off the track, but was subsequently reinstated.

800m (W) Jenny Meadows just missed out on a medal after leading for most of the race, finishing 4th placing after only returning to training 12 weeks ago.

She felt that the lack of training and preparation let her down on the final straight.

“I’m a better athlete than that,” she said, “it’s all about the summer.”

300m (W) A false start and a crashing fall might have thrown some 19-year-olds, but Lauren Howarth managed to compose herself despite some nasty grazes to finish a creditable 6th in the final.

There was better luck for Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton, who stayed with the leading pack to take a Bronze.

TJ (W) Yamilé Aldama produced two season’s bests this weekend (13.95m) but could not advance from 6th into the medals.

PV (M) There was a season’s best for Steven Lewis too, in the Men’s Pole Vault, where he came 6th.

60m (W) Asha Philip was able to put a couple of seasons of injury behind her to also record a personal best in the 60m final, finishing 6th.

LJ (M) Chris Tomlinson placed 7th with a best jump of 7.95m

As always, though, the real drama was saved for the 4x400m relays.

Perri Shakes-Drayton topped off a great day in the office bringing the women’s team home in a new British record time of 3m27.56s.

The team (Eilidh Child, Shana Cox, Christine Ohuruogu and Shakes-Drayton) ran solidly from the start although the Russian time kept them in their sights and under pressure throughout.

The clear air in the changeover between Ohuruogu and Shakes-Drayton made all the difference, and although Kesinia Zadorina worked hard to close the gap, it was not enough to deny Shakes-Drayton a second Gold of the day.

In the men’s race, there was another barging incident, this time on the second leg between Poland’s Rafal Omelko and Britain’s Richard Buck.

Omelko cut sharply across the track forcing Buck to make a single step firmly in the infield in almost a replay of the incident between Levine and Trenikhin.

The race itself was won in decisive form with Michael Bingham fading at the first handover, but Levine’s run to give Richard Strachan a commanding lead made the final leg little more than a lap of honour to end the day with a final Gold.

Ironically during their lap of honour, BBC Sport’s Phil Jones had to break the news to them that they had been (initially) disqualified, but on appeal the Polish time were disqualified and the result stood.

For a comparatively small team, still adjusting to a new head coach, a second place behind Russia was a good sign for the outdoor season.

More importantly, in light of the sad news of the impending closure of Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium, perhaps we are seeing the initial signs that the 2012 legacy is alive and well.