21 JUL 2007 General News Hengelo, The Netherlands

Double British 200m gold, strong Steeplechase run by Grovdal in Hengelo - European Junior Champs, Day 3

Hayley Jones and Alex Nelson - European Junior 200m champions (Mark Shearman)Hayley Jones and Alex Nelson - European Junior 200m champions (Mark Shearman) © Copyright

Highlights of day three at the European Athletics Junior Championships included Great Britain, a traditional power at European junior level, ending its gold medal drought with a brace of 200m wins, a Norwegian one-two in the women's 3000m Steeplechase, while Russia's Nikolay Sedyuk set a championship record in the men's Discus Throw on Saturday (21).  

Nelson lords it in the 200m

In a matter of minutes, Britain went from having zero gold medals in its possession to two thanks firstly to Hayley Jones and then Alex Nelson storming to victory over 200m.

Jones proved she is among the best starters among European junior women sprinters and got away well, despite having committed a false start, to win in a personal best 23.37.

"I have never been so nervous in my life. However, my bend was spot-on. I never expected to come off the bend in front, and then I expected them all to come back at me, but I never saw anybody," said Jones.

Inspired by seeing Jones triumph, Nelson followed in her footsteps with a run of 20.83.

"All the way along the straight (Germany's Julian) Reus was slightly in front and I was thinking, 'I'm going to get you, you're not having me, you're not beating me.' Basically I won it on the dip. I just fell over really," said the 2006 IAAF World Junior Championships 200m bronze medallist.

Reus, the 100m winner on Friday (20) this time had to settle for the silver medal but had the compensation of a personal best 20.87.

Grovdal gets steeplechase gold

Norway had waited 37 years for a gold medal at the European Athletics Junior Championships but Ezinne Okparaebo won the women's 100m on Friday (20) and 24 hours later Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal added a second victory, winning the 3000m Steeplechase in a Championship record 9:44.34.

The 2006 European Cross Country junior women's silver medallist, Grovdal broke away after one kilometre with only her compatriot Kristine Eikrem Engeset for company and then pushed the pace from the halfway point before dropping her training partner 600 metres from home. Engeset hung on to get the silver in 9:47.35.

Another Championship record fell in the men's discus when Russia's Nikolay Sedyuk upset the form book and beat the Ukrainian favourite Ivan Hryshyn, who had set a Championship record in the qualification rounds, sending the 1.75kg implement out to 62.72m in the second round.

Finland's Minna Nikkanen was the star of the show in the women's Pole Vault as she set three national junior and senior records culminating in a clearance at 4.35m to secure her country's first ever European Athletics Junior Championships gold medal in a women's jumping event.

Romania's Cristina Vasiloiu uncorked a phenomenal final 400m to overhaul Britain's Stephanie Twell 50 metres before the line to win the 1500m in 4:15.30.

Twell had headed for home just after the halfway point in the race, after a slow first 800m, and built up a lead of 20 metres before Vasiloiu reeled her in but managed to finish second in 4:16.03.

Heart-stopping hurdles finishes

Even Vasiloiu's win could not match the two 400m hurdles finals for drama.

France's Mickael Francois, the fastest junior in Europe this year before this race and the fastest man in the heats by far, looked well on his way to the men's 400m Hurdles gold medal before crashing into the final barrier, and Germany's Silvio Schirrmeister came through to win in a personal best of 50.60, the best time by a European teenager in 2007.

There was another German victory when Fabienne Kohlmann won the women's 400m Hurdles gold medal in a personal best of 56.42 by overhauling Britain's Perri Shakes-Drayton, who had lead since the seventh barrier, right on the line.

British team captain Shakes-Drayton clocked a national junior record of 56.46, reducing a mark by a nearly a second which had stood since 1996.

"I didn't know whether I could get Shakes-Drayton off the final hurdle but I had to try and I succeeded," said Kohlmann, who still has another year in the junior ranks and will be one of the long-distance favourites for a gold medal at the 2008 World Junior Championships in Athletics, which will be staged in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz.

Other victories included Italy's Mario Scapini winning a tactical men's 1500m in 4:01.31, the slowest winning time in the history of the Championships, the Ukraine's Oleksandr Nartov winning the High Jump as the only man to go over 2.23m and fellow Ukrainian Vira Rebryk winning the women's javelin with 58.48m.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF

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