Briton wins 800m in Tallinn on a day that sees several world class marks on the track and field

On the third day of competition at the European Under-23 Championships at Tallinn on Saturday (July 10) where Britain had lots of hopes, only dependable and steely racer Isabelle Boffey won a medal as the UK otherwise picked up a number of frustrating fourth and fifths.

Boffey can lay claim now to being both the current European under-20 and under-23 champion. She also won the European under-18 title in 2016.

Delia Sclabas, who had followed Boffey home two years ago – one place up on a certain Keely Hodgkinson – set a good pace leading through 200m in 28.64 and 400m in 60.25. She slowed in the third 200m and Boffey took her chance with a fast move down the backstraight to power past 600m in 91.04.

She opened up a gap around the bend and despite losing a little ground in the finishing straight, she held on to win in by a few metres in 2:01.80.

Eloisa Coiro was a fast-finishing second in a PB of 2:02.07 with Sweden’s Wilma Nielsen third in a PB 2:02.29. Former European under-20 champion Khahisa Mhlanga finished strongly for fourth spot in 2:04.05.

A delighted Boffey said: “I am buzzing. I showed that as I crossed the line. I have run 2:01 a few times this season and I really wanted to bring my best to the champs. I tried to stick to my plan, and I knew if I did that, I could secure the gold.

“I now want to get into some quick races to get these times down and get a time for next season’s championships. The middle distances in the UK just now is insane and I just need to train hard to get on their level next year.”

Britain had medal hopes in the men’s 1500m but 2020 British champion George Mills ended up fifth in 3:40.91 and Joshua Lay was eighth in 3:41.29.

Ruben Verheyden was the surprise winner as a 53.03 last circuit gave him victory. Eighth with 300m to go the Belgian blasted the next 100m in 12.58 to take the lead and a 26.27 last 200m kept him ahead of Spain’s Mario Garcia (3:40.11) and Portugal’s Isaac Nader (3:40.58) who took the other medals.

Mills ran a 53sec last lap but didn’t make any impression on the medallists. European under-20 medallist Lay was well placed at the bell in 2:46.74 and was still fourth as he hit the finishing straight though lost four places in the last 100 metres.

The 110m hurdles also looked promising but again Britain narrowly fell short in an exciting race which saw the first four finish within a metre.

European Team Championships winner Asier Martinez again proved his big race temperament with a win in 13.34/-1.6 just ahead of Belgium’s Michael Obasuyi (13.40) with Enrique Llopis (13.44) just edging British Trials winner Tade Ojora who did record his second best ever time despite the hefty headwind. European Junior champion Joshua Zeller finished sixth in 13.76.

Ojora, who looked to be sharing the lead at halfway, said: “My start was good but towards the end I really started worrying about people each side of me instead of focusing on my own race which is upsetting. I didn’t come here for fourth, but I’ll be back.”

Alessandro Sibilio, who won a European junior silver medal in 2017, won a high quality 400m hurdles in a big PB and Italian under-23 record of 48.42 and the next four also set PBs too.

Emil Nana Kwame Agyekum of Germany was second in 48.96 with Netherlands’ Angela Ramsay third in 49.07. Britain’s Alex Knibbs improved his PB to 49.37 in fourth and British senior champion Alastair Chalmers did set a season’s best of 49.84 in sixth.

The quality was matched in the women’s race as the first five set national under-23 records. Emma Zapletalová also set a Slovakian senior record and broke the championships record as she won easily in 54.28 to destroy her year-old PB of 55.19. Sara Gallego set a Spanish senior record in second with 55.20 just ahead of Switzerland’s Yasmin Giger’s 55.25.

The women’s 400m also saw brilliant depth – the first seven set PBs – and a Czech Republic one-two as the 2019 runner-up Lada Vondrová improved her best to 51.19 to narrowly defeat former world youth champion Barbora Malíková who ran 51.23. Silke Lemmens set a Swiss under-23 record in third with 52.09.

Switzerland did even better in the men’s race as Ricky Petrucciani, who has qualified for the Olympics by the world ranking system, won in a championships record 45.02 to easily beat his 45.69 PB set when winning the Swiss Championships. Belgium’s Jonathan Sacoor (45.17) and Italy’s Edoardo Scotti (45.68) took the other medals as he first six went insde 46 seconds.

Poland’s Pia Skrzyszowska went one better than she had in the 2019 European Junior Championships as she set a PB 12.77 to narrowly pip France’s Cyrena Samba-Mayela (12.80) with Poland picking up a further medal with Klaudia Wojtunik also setting a PB of 12.97. Britain’s Anastasia Davies finished eighth in 13.53.

Italy’s Dalia Kaddari comfortably won the women’s 200m in a European under-23 lead of 22.64/-0.4 with Germany’s world junior relay gold medallist Sophia Junk second in a PB 22.87 with France’s Gemima Joseph third in 22.97. Britain’s Kiah Dubarry-Gay set a a PB 23.29/-1.2 in the semi-final and then went close in the final with 23.32. Georgina Adam was third in her semi-final in 23.57/-1.2 and narrowly missed out on qualifying.

Switzerland’s William Reais, a 20.24 performer last year, won the 200m in a European under-23 lead 20.47/0.3 with Spain’s Jesus Gomez (20.60) and Pol Retamal (20.76) taking the other medals.
Britain’s defending champion Shemar Boldizsar was less than a metre back but ended up sixth in 20.84.

The very hot weather of more than 30C certainly meant some quality performances in the shorter events though meant it was an ordeal for the endurance runners, who found their 5000m races split in two.

Germany’s Mohamed Mohumed was a clear overall winner in 13:38.69 after putting in laps of 62.57 and then 63.54 after passing 3000 metres and then he finished with a 2:34 final kilometre.

Spain’s Aaron Las Heras (13:43.14) Iceland’s Baldvin Magnusson (13:45.00) were the other medallists.

Magnusson is a student at Eastern Michigan in the United States but moved to live in England when he was five years old and is a member of Kingston Upon Hull AC.

Tom Mortimer was fourth in 13:48.67 having led to 3000m in 8:24.89 and then been the only runner who covered the German’s burst. He was still a close second with 800 metres to go but he faded in the heat over the last two laps. Isaac Akers finished 10th in 14:07.07 but Rory Leonard dropped out.

Mortimer said: “Knowing there was another race I needed to take it on. I knew we needed to do sub-14. I was pleased Mohumed took it out, but I couldn’t handle it in the end.”

Kristjan Čeh predictably retained his discus title with three throws over 65 metres when the next best was Belarus’s Yauheni Bahutski’s 61.21m. The best of his throws – 67.48m in the third round – was a championship record for the 22 year-old who will be one of the favourites in Tokyo.

Another championships record went to an even bigger Olympic favourite as World Championships silver medallist and European Indoor champion Yaroslava Mahuchikh was again over two metres. None of the opposition could go higher than 1.89m as Sweden’s Maja Nilsson took silver on countback from Slovenia’s Lia Apostolovski.

France’s Ethan Cormant was a clear winner of the pole vault as he set an outdoor PB of 5.80m at the first attempt as Greece’s Emmanouíl Karalís (5.65m) and Norway’s Sondre Guttormsen (5.60m) completed the medallists.

Germany’s Samantha Borutta, a 71.08m thrower this summer, dominated the hammer with the five best throws of the competition with a best of 68.80m.

Denmark’s Katrine Koch Jacobsen (66.81m) and Finland’s Kiira Väänänen (65.98m) took the other medals.
Britain’s Anna Purchase had a good competition and was even in a medal position after a 65.11m second round throw and ended up fourth. At her best, British Trials winner Tara Simpson-Sullivan could have won a medal but finished fifth with a 64.84m throw.

A delighted Purchase said: “It has been a really hard year, so I am very proud today. I had to quarantine for 17 days after going to and fro from the US so to do this is really special.”

The Dutch are having a good championships and Jessica Schilder who was fifth in the European Indoor Championships, won the shot with a final round 18.11m throw which moved her up from third. Germany’s Lea Reidel had thrown a 17.86m PB earlier in the round to overtake the Dutch woman’s fifth round 17.85m which was until then second on countback to Sweden’s Axelina Johansson’s fourth round effort and the latter ended up being shunted to third.

France’s Flavie Renouard won the steeplechase in 9:51.02 only taking the lead on the last lap with a 3:06 last kilometre to defeat Poland’s Kinga Królik (9:52.59) annd France’s Aude Clavier (9:58.58). Britain’s Sarah Tait moved up from seventh to fifth on the last lap to run 10:04.53. Her team-mate Elise Thorner was eighth in 10:12.41.

Lucy Hadaway’s 6.48/0.3 leap was only headed in the long jump qualifying by France’s Maelly Dalmat’s wind-assisted 6.49/2.5.

Germany are dominating the decathlon after the first day. Andreas Bechmann has a big lead with a world-class 4447 points with his team-mate Nils Laserich (4221) and Netherlands’ Sven Roosen (4220) separated by just a point.

At the end of the third day, Spain (three golds, five silver and five bronze) top the medal table from Germany (3, 3, 1), Switzerland (3, 0, 1), Netherlands (3, 0, 1) and France (2, 3, 4). Britain are ninth (2, 0, 2) but close enough to climb much higher with a good final day.

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