European Championships: Eilidh Child wins 400m hurdles gold

By Tom FordyceChief sports writer in Zurich
Child claims 400m hurdles gold

Eilidh Child won Britain's seventh gold medal of the European Championships to take her team within striking distance of their best-ever haul.

The Scot, who won Commonwealth silver in front of her home crowd a fortnight ago, held off Ukraine's fast-finishing Anna Titimets to become Britain's first female 400m hurdles champion since Sally Gunnell in 1994.

Child has been Europe's best one-lap hurdler all summer and - just as she did under intense pressure in Glasgow - held her form and speed in the critical race to seal her first major gold medal in 54.48 seconds.

Fellow Scot Lynsey Sharp earlier smashed her own personal best by 0.87 seconds and broke Susan Scott's Scottish 800m record as her brave front-running tactics were too good for all but Belarusian Maryna Arzamasova.

British Athletics' performance director Neil Black predicted earlier this week that his team would struggle to match the eight golds won in Barcelona four years ago.

But with serious chances for both sprint relay teams on Sunday, Olympic champions Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford hunting the 5,000m and long jump titles respectively, and a men's 4x400m squad that includes the individual gold and silver medallists, they could yet surpass their record total of nine golds from 1998 and 1990.

Child is part of the same training group as 2010 European champion Dai Greene, coached by Malcolm Arnold, the great British guru of hurdling.

Arnold also coached Colin Jackson to four European sprint hurdles titles and, 42 years on from taking John Akii-Bua to Olympic gold, has another continental champion in the golden Child.

The new champion said afterwards: "If you'd told me the summer I was going to have I don't think I would have believed you.

"I'm absolutely delighted to have a gold medal. I knew if I got the race right, I'd be happy with the outcome."

While Jo Pavey could not repeat her 10,000m heroics in a 5,000m final settled by a last 800m burn-up, Sharp - the reigning European champion - matched her Commonwealth medal and produced her fastest-ever run with one minute 58.80 secs.

European Championships: Lynsey Sharp wins 800m silver

Sharp said: "I have felt so good all week - I knew I was in PB shape, so even though front-running is totally different for me, I thought I'd just go for it.

"I was in hospital on a drip for two weeks in April and at that point I didn't even know if I was going to have a season, so to go on and get a Scottish record, and silver at the Commonwealths and Europeans, is great."

Britain's talented sprint relay teams had earlier moved safely into Sunday's final as they look to add to the five individual medals won earlier in the week.

With 200m champion Adam Gemili rested after his 19.98 secs run late on Friday night, the quartet of James Ellington, Harry Aikenes-Aryeetey, Richard Kilty and Danny Talbot won their heat in 38.26 secs, with only Germany's 38.15 secs looking more impressive.

The women's team of Asha Philip, Ashleigh Nelson, Anyika Onuora and Desiree Henry were more impressive yet, winning their heat in 42.62, the third-fastest ever time by a British quartet - and this with 200m silver medallist Jodie Williams as an option to come back in.

But there was disappointment for Commonwealth pole vault champion Steve Lewis, who finished down in 11th after opting to pass at 5.65m and failing twice at 5.70m as France's brilliant Renaud Lavillenie took his expected gold with 5.90m.

Eilidh Child
Eilidh Child justified her European number one ranking by taking gold in the 400m hurdles
Lynsey Sharp, Maryna Arzamasova, and Joanna Jozwik
Silver medallist Lynsey Sharp on the podium alongside Maryna Arzamasova of Belarus and Poland's Joanna Jozwik
Jo Pavey and, left, Italy's Giulia Viola
Jo Pavey shows the strain after finishing seventh in the 5000 metres final, ahead of Italy's Giulia Viola
Britain's men's 4x400 metres relay team
Michael Bingham, Rabah Yousif, Nigel Levine and Martyn Rooney qualify for the 4x400m final

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