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MUIR, MCCOLGAN, WEIGHTMAN & 4X100M TEAMS DELIVER AS GB & NI END ON HIGH


Laura Muir enjoyed her first major outdoor title and the first European 1500m title ever won by a British female was in the script, however that wasn't to say it would always go to plan for the race favourite on the night in a field that contained dangerous finishers.



After a cautious opening 300m which saw the field go through in 53, Muir and Weightman went straight to the fore and ensured the race was honest from that point in, with 700m being reached in around 2:07 as Muir took every opportunity to increase the lead she held.

From that point on it seemed it was Muir's gold to lose, with Weightman also a constant threat to the medals as she kept in second around five metres or so behin. Come the bell Muir kicked for home and stretched her lead to that of absolute comfort, the final bend being seeing her roared home to gold - her first major outdoor title - in 4:02.32.

Behind Muir, and after showing signs of fighting the lactic at the bell, Weightman ran a gritty and determined final 400m to hold off the charging Ciara Mageean (IRL) and secure a magnificent bronze to match her effort from Zurich in 2014, her time being 4:03.75 as Sofia Ennaoui (POL) took silver.

"I wanted to make it a true 1500m race, not an 800m race. That's why I took it on further out; I just had to trust my pacing to judge it right, but I did and I'm really happy," said Muir of her tactics and the title they brought.

"It's one thing being fast on paper, but in 1500m there are so many different ways [to win], so to come here and deliver gold is great. I think it ranks at the top [in regards to other achievements] – I delivered well indoors, but to deliver outdoors and for it to be gold when you're under quite a lot of pressure is a big achievement for me."

On her bronze-winning run, Weightman commented: "It's been a bronze year for me – I think to step away from the Commonwealth Games 5000m and the 1500m here at the European Championships; I'm incredibly proud of what I've achieved this year.

"I think tonight that was a really brave and strong race I ran; I'm slightly disappointed that Sofia [Polish silver medallist] caught me in that last 200m – I went hard and maybe paid the price for that, but I'm pleased with the win; I raced the race."

The first of the two sprint relays taking place as the Championships drew to a close, the British women's 4x100m quartet went one better than the silver won in Amsterdam two years ago as a storming anchor leg from Dina Asher-Smith brought home the title and saw the 22-year-old claim her third gold of the championships – something no Brit has ever achieved.

Led out in the safe hands of expert starter Asha Philip, the baton changed hands safely from her to training partner Imani-Lara Lansiquot. Making third leg her own at these championships, Bianca Williams Williams carried the team well, though when the baton reached Asher-Smith the team had ground to make and sat in fourth.

Asher-Smith took on the challenge and delivered emphatically, getting into her running to drive past the opposition standing between Britain and gold – Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland – and secure gold in a world-leading 41.88.

Speaking on the team's determination to win this title this time around, lead-off leg Philip said: "We came second last time, and I said, we're not going to do that again. We are Olympic medallists, we are World Championship medallists and I feel like we needed to prove ourselves in Europe.

"We wanted to come away with a gold medal. We've came away with a world leading time as well. We are all running well and happy to be together. The baton went around smoothly – we're good."

Reflecting on her first major senior championships experience and relay gold Lansiquot said: "I feel incredible. This is my first ever major senior champs and I've left with a final and a gold medal. I am so grateful to these girls for getting the baton around, doing it in a world leading time and making me feel so welcome. I have had the best two weeks of my life and I cannot wait for what is next. "

Third-leg runner Williams added: "It was nice, never in doubt, no chance, we were good. We came here wanting to win and that's what we've done, we've got the job done. I am very happy with these girls. We have trained really hard for the last week and a half out here. Everything went well and we have delivered on the day."

Having made history of her own with an unprecedented three golds in one European championships, Asher-Smith said: "It has been a very good week's work. I came and won everything that I entered and I am very, very happy. Obviously these girls ran such fantastic legs so respect to them and it was almost a national record. I couldn't have done it without each of these women's hard work.

Earlier in the evening the quartet of Philip, Lansiquot, Williams and Daryll Neita had swept round safely to take victory in a swift European leading time of 42.19 from lane two, with safe changes indicating that the team had the potential to go much quicker later in the evening.

Seeking to defend their title, the men's line-up of CJ Ujah, Zharnel Hughes, Adam Gemili and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey delivered the goods once again to make it three European 4x100m titles in a row.

Led out strongly by Ujah, the newly crowned European 100m champion Hughes then dropped an unstoppable leg on the back straight to open the team's lead before handing over to Gemili on course for gold.

Hugging the bend and extending the lead, a final changeover to Aikines-Aryeetey saw him take charge and deliver what was needed, with a dip securing victory and gold with a time of 37.80 by some margin ahead of national records from Turkey (silver) and Netherlands (bronze).

Having led the team out to a strong start, Ujah said: "I always like kicking it off in such an iconic stadium. The world record in the 100m and 200m has been here, the atmosphere is amazing. Credit to these guys for also putting in a shift."

Now the European 100m and 4x100m champion, Hughes commented: "It's been a real exciting year for me with the European Championship, I'm really happy to be with these guys today and I was really happy to get a gold medal with them.

"They set up last year with the World Championships by getting the gold, so tonight was an extraordinary experience for me to be a part of the relay and also to have made gold in the 100m earlier in the week."

Having now played a part in Britain's three consecutive European 4x100m golds, Gemili said: "It's a nice way to end the championships and it's a cool wat that we got to do it as well, as its usually the 4x400m guys but a gold medal is always sweet.

"I'm still not happy with the individual but you live and you learn but hopefully I can improve in the next few years, but yes the relay is fantastic – it's always a pleasure running with these guys as they're like family, like brothers, so it's always a special day."

After stepping in to take up the role of anchor following a slight injury to Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Denis Shaver; Newham & Essex Beagles) in the heats, Aikines-Aryeetey said: "Unfortunately Nethaneel couldn't partake in the final, so we had to make some smart decisions taking care of his body. I'm the old dog, I got my first (senior) international medal here nine years ago.

"I'm experienced so it was time for me to step up and take the opportunity to see these guys home. We've got so much depth, so much experience. So many people backing us and behind us, it's an honour to run with these guys and an honour to represent GB."

The quartet of Ujah, Hughes, Gemili and Mitchell-Blake had followed the female team's lead by coasting through qualification with an impressive 37.84 for victory, with a niggle sustained during the heat seeing Mitchell-Blake replaced by Aikines-Aryeetey on anchor come the final.





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