The British team wrapped up the European Athletics U20 Championships by winning a trio of relay medals in majestic fashion to end the event top of the medal table with 12 overall; six gold, one silver, and five bronze medals.
The men’s 4x100m, women’s 4x100m, and men’s 4x400m relay teams triumphed in Tallinn after three exceptional displays from the British quartets.
There was a dominant performance by the men’s 4x400m relay quartet as they won gold to officially confirm Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s place at the top of the medal table. They did so in a world U20 leading time of 3:05.25.
Similar to the heats on Saturday, Brodie Young (James McMenemy, Airdrie Harriers) ran a superb first leg with a split of 47.31 to hand over the baton to Samuel Reardon (Nigel Stickings, Blackheath and Bromley) in the lead. Reardon, who ran a 46.1 split in the heats, ran 46.2 in the final to give Charlie Carvell (Stuart Hamilton, Telford) a significant advantage as he embarked on the penultimate leg.
Carvell, whose split was 46.76, exchanged the baton with the individual 400m champion Edward Faulds (James Wright, Rugby and Northampton) who ran an astonishing split of 44.97 to bring home the title for the British quartet. It was GB&NI’s first European U20 title since the 2009 edition in Serbia.
Reuben Henry-Daire (Paul Herrington, Reading AC) and Daniel Joyce (Peter Venus, Tynedale), who were part of the team to help the team qualify for the final, also received a medal and a moment on the top step of the podium.
Young said, “I wish I could describe what I am feeling right now. I knew I had to do my best today, I had to be very fast in the first 200m so we could get a good head start and into the change quickly.”
Reardon, who took on leg two, added, “During the whole thing I was just thinking that I need to get into the middle so it would be easier and quicker for the boys, and I did my best to do my part.”
A delighted Carvell said, “I am absolutely over the moon. Thank you to these boys, they are absolutely brilliant. We all did amazing, and I am so proud of us.”
Double European champion, Faulds, spoke afterward, “I wouldn’t have been able to have done it without these boys. These boys are just incredible and I’m over the moon. Nobody should underestimate us!”
The women’s 4x100m relay team was in sizzling form as they captured the European U20 title after a fantastic team effort, winning in a time of 44.62.
6️⃣Gold Medals 🥇— British Athletics (@BritAthletics) July 18, 2021
1️⃣2️⃣Medals in total
🔝of the Medal table
It was an @EuroAthletics U20 Championships to remember for the next generation of GB & NI athletes 🙌
The future looks very bright 🌟
Similar to the heat this morning, Alyson Bell (Billy Glasgow, Giffnock North) got the quartet off to a strong start and handed the baton over cleanly to Eve Wright (Ryan Freckleton, Shaftesbury Barnet) who accelerated down the back straight to put the British team in contention for the gold.
100m bronze medallist Joy Eze (Michael Donnelly, Gateshead) showed great composure around the bend as the field bunched up leaving 200m bronze medallist Success Eduan (Anita Richardson, Sale Harriers Manchester) the final task of chasing down the line. With the German and Polish team narrowly ahead, Eduan showed grit to overhaul her opponents in the closing stages to seal GB & NI’s fourth gold in the event at the Championship in the last ten years. Aleeya Sibbons (Coral Nourrice, Newham and Essex Beagles), who was part of the team in the morning’s heat, also received a gold medal.
Alyson Bell, who started the leg for the British team said post-race, “It was absolutely amazing. Hearing the crowd cheer for us really helped me and made me want to go fast and hard right from the start. We had great exchanges and that really helped as it was down to milliseconds at the finish line.”
“It was probably one of the fastest races I have ever run” said second leg runner, Wright, “We knew we had to do that to beat the other teams. As soon as it got to me, I was running as fast as I could. When I saw we were first there was nothing else to do than give it to Joy with the biggest gap possible. I’m so pleased we get to go home with a gold medal.”
Adding to her 100m bronze, Eze commented, “I ran for my life! The Polish girls were giving their absolute best, so my job was to get to Success as fast as I could. I’m so happy that we won.”
Anchoring the team home, Eduan added, “All I was doing was – attack, attack, attack. I saw the Germans and was thinking I cannot let them beat us. Prior to this competition we were like, we have to bring it home. And we did! Being only 16 and going home with two medals is absolutely amazing and unbelievable. I thank God for everything. And my family, friends, coaches, my support system has been incredible! I’m really grateful. Onwards from here!”
Moments later the men’s 4x100m relay delivered a special performance to win the gold medal at the Kadriorg Stadium, the first title for the team in the event since the 2003 edition of the Championship.
The same line-up had run a European U20 lead time in the heats earlier in the day, crossing the line in a time of 39.68, and once again produced a phenomenal performance to be crowned the Kings of Europe.
Joseph Harding (coach: Laura Turner-Alleyne, club: Basildon) once again got a rapid start out of the blocks to give Jeriel Quainoo (Ryan Freckleton, Blackheath and Bromley) a great position on leg two. As he motored down the back straight, the British team looked on course for the gold medal, and as Quainoo handed over to 100m champion Toby Makoyawo (Peter Griffiths, Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow), the squad had the title in their sights.
Ethan Wiltshire (Jake Awe, Marshall Milton Keynes) was once again on the anchor leg and expertly pushed the team onto victory from the Netherlands and Italy in a time of 39.74.
Harding said, “It was unreal – my legs were crazy! I was just waiting for the gun to go off. And when it did, I heard that bang and I was just running for my life. We had a nice and clean exchange. It all paid off; we are the champs!
Quainoo added, “I’m grateful! Grateful for the boys for bringing it home. I wasn’t slowing down any time soon. As soon as it was my turn I attacked as hard as I could.
100m champion, Makoyawo said afterward, “I got the exchange in a fantastic position. All I had to do was maintain and chase. And to give it to Ethan as fast as possible so that he could bring it home.
Wiltshire, whose tattoo on his arm reads ‘equanimity’, added, “It’s all about keeping calmness and composure, regardless of what is going on around you. We were in the middle, there was a lot going on. My team gave it to me in a great position and I just wanted to bring it home for the team. I’m thankful for the boys, for the team, for British Athletics, for my parents and most importantly to God. Shout out to the team, and mums and dads!”
Facing a tough task in lane one, Adam Booth (Graeme Gourlay, Poole AC) produced a professional display to bag fourth spot in the men’s 400m hurdles final. Following a PB of 51.38 in the semi-final on Saturday, Booth was competing in his third race in three days, the first time he had done so in his career, so he was entering unknown territory.
He took it to the Swedish athlete in lane two and they became embroiled in a battle for the bronze medal but in the home straight the Briton could not reel him in as the Swede kicked on for silver while Booth finished fourth in a time of 52.14.
There was a gutsy run from Alice Garner (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham and District) who claimed fourth place in the women’s 5000m A final in a time of 16:32.56. As the leading three opened a gap from the Briton, she had to work hard to contain those behind her, but she achieved that for the high placing.
Phoebe Anderson (Wayne Vinton, Herne Hill) was ninth overall based on the combined times from the earlier run B race, recording a time of 16:43.35. Meanwhile, Ellen Weir (Anne Hegvold, Hercules Wimbledon) was 17th overall in 17:06.95.
In a high-quality men’s triple jump final, Daniel Falode (Guy Spencer, Cambridge Harriers) competed strongly to finish fifth in a season best of 15.81m with all the medals going to athletes jumping over 16 metres.
Falode’s series of jumps heated up on his second attempt as he followed a foul with a mark of 15.64m. This prepared him well for the furthest jump of his series, the 15.81m, just 9cm off his PB. A 15.79m jump backed up his strong form to earn an impressive fourth place finish.
Daniel Howells (Richard Ashe, Aldershot Farnham and District) and Henry Johnson (Lynn Cooper, Houghton Harriers) were fifth and eighth respectively in the men’s 800m final.
Both were in contention for the medals but a slight knock on the backstraight with 250m to go took the momentum out of Johnson, and Howells fought valiantly but did not have quite enough to catch the leading three. Both enjoyed an encouraging few days in Tallinn with Howells posting a time of 1:49.41 and Johnson 1:58.69 as he jogged it home in the last 200m.
Reuben Nairne (Brian Donaldson, Glasgow City) and Lazurus Benjamin (Matt Cullen, Sale Harriers Manchester) ended the men’s pole vault final in eighth and ninth position respectively after commendable showings in their first major final.
They both earned equal PBs as they cleared 5.05m. Nairne achieved it on his second attempt, while Benjamin went over on his third and final attempt at the height. The latter had cleared the first height of 4.90m at the first time of asking, but Nairne required two attempts to progress in the competition. Their competition came to a close at the 5.15m height.
In only his fourth race over the distance, Alex Alston (Simon Goodwin, Bedford and County) showed grit and determination as he clocked a personal best of 9:06.03 for ninth place in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase final. In rising temperatures in Tallinn, the field was strung out in the opening laps, but Alston battled to not become detached for long spells. He continued to push on in the last few laps to post a career best time.
Elizabeth Korczak (Bob Willows, Brighton and Hove) finished 11th in the women’s javelin final on her European debut. The best throw of her series came on what would be her third and final effort with a mark measuring at 48.08m. With only the top eight progressing to three more throws, her competition came to an end after three attempts to finish 11th in Europe.
British team medals:
Women’s 4x100m Relay
Men’s 4x100m Relay
Men’s 4x400m Relay
Edward Faulds – Men’s 400m
Derek Kinlock – Men’s 200m
Toby Makoyako – Men’s 100m
Mary John – Women’s 400m
Sam Brereton – Men’s High Jump
Success Eduan – Women’s 200m
Joy Eze – Women’s 100m
Alex Melloy – Men’s 3000m
Henry McLuckie – Men’s 1500m