Record medal haul at European Athletics U18 Championships

Jerusalem track

Great Britain and Northern Ireland enjoyed another medal-laden evening on the final day of the European Athletics U18 Championships in Jerusalem. The team won a total overall medal tally of 16, beating the previous Great Britain and Northern Ireland total of 13 medals in 2016.

Iris Downes (handicap -0.8) over 800m was the highlight of the final day with a bronze medal with steeplechaser Luke Birdseye (handicap -3.4) just missing a medal.

In a slow and tactical 800m final, Iris Downes (handicap -0.8) hit the lead with 200m to go in her bid for a medal. As the finish line approached, she was in second place until a late lunge by Jana Becker (GER) saw Downes pipped on the line for the silver medal. Downes time of 2:09.56 saw her finish in the bronze medal position.

Ella Greenway (handicap 0.4) narrowly missed out on a medal finishing fourth in 2:10.30.

Speaking after the race Downes said: “When we hit that final 200m I thought ‘it’s a final, I may as well take it on’. My legs felt great at that point until around 50m to go and the other girls caught up with me.”

In the 2000m steeplechase final, Luke Birdseye (handicap -3.4) narrowly missed out on a medal finishing fourth place, running a huge eight-second personal best to finish in 5:44.45. Oliver Patton (handicap -2.2) finished 15th in a time of 6:09.25.

The 3000m final saw Edward Bird (handicap -4.2) add another bronze medal to the Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal tally. Entering the final lap leading a group of four athletes, Bird dug deep in the final 100m to win bronze in a personal best time of 8:14.59.

Bird was quick to thank his teammate after the race: “I started the race thinking ‘I’m in with a good shout if I get this right’, I wanted it to be a fast race and I have to thank James Knockton (handicap -4.1) for taking it out and being fearless, it was such a bold move and it certainly helped me to win the medal.”

Annie Mann (handicap 0.7) produced a fantastic final 100m to claim the 1500m title in a personal best time of 4:23.41. Finding herself boxed early in the race, she thought her title hopes had gone, but found an extra gear with 200m to go to claim a memorable victory.

Speaking after the race, Mann said, “I came in with a game plan and that went out the window after getting a slow start. I ended up running wide but as soon as I heard that bell I thought ‘right, it’s go time!’ I watched everyone win medals yesterday and I wanted to experience that too. I really dug deep in that final 100m.”

Jess Bailey (handicap 0.2) entered the 3000m as the one to beat. The young Brit trusted in her front running ability and took the lead from the gun in a bid to run the sprint out of her competitors. It almost worked as she entered the final 400m with just three in contention for the medals but a phenomenal sprint from Sofia Thorgersen (DEN) saw her claim the title. Bailey came home in 9:32.74 to claim the silver medal.

She said, “I knew the danger was always going to be the kick, so my plan was to take it out and wind it up to try and run the sprint out of her, but I went out a little too hard, even for myself, but it still worked out alright.”

In the boys 1500m final, Tendai Nyabadza (handicap -4.2) added another medal to the Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal tally. Nyabadza entered the final 100m in the silver medal position but had to dig deep to fend off a strong finishing Norwegian pair and was just pipped in the final 20m for the silver medal but held on for bronze.

Nyabadza commented: “It feels very, very good. Coming in ranked third I always hoped to get a medal. It would have been nice to finish higher than my ranking, but that wasn’t to be. I am still delighted to be going home with a bronze medal.”

Corey Campbell (handicap 0.7) finished sixth with a time of 3:55.04.

Laura Kerr, Team Leader, said: “These young athletes have embraced the opportunity to step onto the international stage. With 16 medals and 22 personal bests, many of them have significantly outperformed their rankings. I have been very impressed with their preparations, behaviours and execution and want to thank their parents and congratulate their personal coaches.  It is vital these athletes continue to refine their skills, abilities and behaviours in order to fulfil their potential as senior athletes.”

Dan Wagner, British Athletics Performance Pathway Manager and Team Delegation Leader added: “The international age group championships are a key part of the Great Britain & Northern Ireland pathway, supporting & providing the experience to learn the key skills, abilities and behaviours needed to progress onto the senior international stage. This European U18 team have showcased exciting potential for the future with their performances but also their approach in preparation before and during the championships. Congratulations to athletes and their coaches and thank you to the tireless efforts of the team staff who guided them through the championships.”

Endurance Medals

Gold:  Annie Mann (1500m)  

Silver: Jess Bailey (3000m)

Bronze: Edward Bird (3000m), Tendai Nyabadza (1500m), Iris Downes (800m)


Full event summary on this link