Muir breaks 32-year-old Championship record
Britain’s Laura Muir produced an assured victory in the 1500m here to win her first senior international title and complete part one of her attempted double ahead of tomorrow’s 3000m final.
But having finished 15 metres clear in 4:02.39 – breaking the Championship record of 4:02.54 set in 1985 by Romania’s Doina Melinte - the 23-year-old Glasgow veterinary student faced another challenge in the form of a female track official preventing her running a lap of honour.
A nifty sidestep took the rebel champion past the lady in a blazer and after collecting the Union flag Muir completed one of the speediest celebrations ever witnessed as the stadium prepared for the women’s 400m final.
“I had to fight for that didn’t I!” Muir said. “The lady was just saying ‘we don’t have time’, but for my first medal I’m not going to lose out on my lap of honour.
“I was actually quite relaxed because I knew what I had to do and I knew that I was stronger than a lot of the girls.
“I knew that if I got out pretty early then I’d be fine. I didn’t expect someone to be on my shoulder with 300m to go, but I just put the welly in and managed to come away with the win.”
The runner on her shoulder, Germany’s 20-year-old Konstanze Klosterhalfen, was rewarded with silver in a personal best of 4:04.45, with Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui taking bronze in 4:06.59.
Soon after the Scot’s exit, Greece’s Olympic pole vault champion Ekaterini Stefanidi produced another masterful athletic flourish as she returned to the fray after passing at 4.70 and 4.75 to make a first-time clearance of 4.80m which took her past the only other challenger remaining, Germany’s Lisa Ryzih.
The German, who had already failed once at 4.80, moved up to 4.85, but without immediate success.
Once again the Olympic champion charged forwards, and although the bar reverberated for several seconds after her effort at 4.85m, it remained in place.
All the pressure was now back on Ryzih – she couldn’t respond. Stefanidi then made three decent but unsuccessful attempts at 4.91m, a centimetre more than the 2005 Championship record set by Russia’s outdoor world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva.
Joint bronze went to Sweden’s Angelica Bengtsson and Ukraine’s Maryna Kylypko, on 4.55m.
High jumper Airine Palsyte won Lithuania’s first ever gold medal at these Championships, seeing off the challenge of Olympic champion Ruth Beitia before adding a centimetre to the national record she set in January with a clearance of 2.01m at her second attempt.
The 37-year-old Spaniard tried all she knew to earn a second European indoor title but had to settle eventually for a silver – her sixth in this competition since 2005.
Behind her, Ukraine’s 19-year-old Yuliya Levchenko added a first senior international bronze to the one she won at last year’s IAAF World U20 Championships as she cleared a personal best of 1.94m.
The tactic of sitting out at 1.80 and 1.89 before returning for first time clearances at 1.92 and 1.94 left Beitia in gold medal position as she and Palsyte approached 1.96 without a failure between them.
But while the Lithuanian cleared it first time before going on to a further success that she greeted with a mixture of shock and delight, it proved a height too far for the Spaniard.
“Today the best athlete won,” said Beitia. “I'm actually enjoying every minute of being here - a silver medal at my age is simply fantastic.”
There was a surprise in the women’s 400m final as Switzerland’s powerful favourite Lea Sprunger, totally in charge of the race as she led into the final straight, began to tread water and saw four runners flow past her on the outside, with France’s Floria Guei taking gold in a personal best of 51.90 ahead of the Czech Republic’s double world 400m hurdles champion Zuzana Hejnova, second in 52.42, and bronze medallist Justyna Swiety of Poland, who clocked 52.52.
Germany’s World indoor triple jump silver medallist Kristin Gierisch only managed two scoring efforts in the final, but her second round effort of 14.37m, the best European distance of the year, was enough to bring her a first big title.
Portugal’s European outdoor champion Patricia Mamona took a first round lead with a season’s best of 14.24m, but once passed, despite successive improvements to 14.25, 14.29 and 14.32, she could not improve on silver. Greece’s Paraskevi Papahristou took bronze with a season’s best of 14.24.