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Rutherford takes Silver in Gothenburg

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The Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team won its first medal at the European Championships in Gothenburg on Tuesday evening, when Greg Rutherford (Marshall Milton Keynes) leapt into Silver medal position in the final round of the long jump.

It was the first time Britain had won a long jump medal at this particular games for 37 years. Then, in 1969, in Athens, it was Lynn Davies, who finished second, and how fitting that, the President of UK Athletics should present the medals.

Rutherford, 19, has had a tremendous month after winning the Norwich Union European Trials with 8.26m in Manchester in July. That performance elevated him to second on the all-time British rankings and he did not need anything like that distance to make the podium tonight.

But he showed nerves of steel to climb from third to second in the final round. Andrew Howe, of Italy, had led from the second round with 8.20m, with Rutherford initially in the silver medal place after jumping 8.03m, also in round two.

 

 

Then Oleskiy Lukashevych, of the Ukraine, leapt 8.12m in the fifth round to put the pressure on the Briton. But he responded, showing fast pace and elegance in his run up to go back into the silver spot with 8.13m.

Rutherford, who chose athletics ahead of a career in football, was delighted. He said: “I have proved people wrong who doubted I could do it. I am really pleased I chose athletics.

 

”I left it late to produce my best in the final round but that always seems to happen. The crowd was amazing. When I was on the podium it really hit me, it was a wonderful feeling!'

 

Rutherford won the European Junior title last year and he has taken his form into this summer. He was eighth in the Commonwealth Games, after sustaining an injury, and then ninth in the European Cup.


But tonight he maintained his extraordinary breakthrough.

 

Overcoming a slight ankle injury, he jumped 8.03m in the second round, missed the next round, before he returned with a foul, leapt 7.78m and then did enough to make the podium.

 

Chris Tomlinson (Newham & Essex Beagles), the British record holder, and Nathan Morgan (Birchfield Harriers) did not even make the cut.

 

Tomlinson’s best was 7.74m, having fouled on his first attempt and cleared 7.61m on his second. He was ninth overall while Morgan’s sequence of 7.57m, foul, and 7.65m saw him finish 11th.

 

After a first day where Kelly Sotherton (Birchfield Harriers) and Jessica Ennis (Sheffield) were second and third in the heptathlon respectively behind Sweden’s Olympic champion Carolina Kluft, they ended out of the medals.

 

As Kluft won gold with 6740 points, a Championship record, Sotherton was seventh with 6290 and Ennis eighth, improving her personal best by 18 points to achieve 6287.

 

Sotherton went into the final two events knowing she faced a difficult time because the javelin is the weakest of her disciplines. It proved so again. She was last overall, in 26th place, with 30.05m. Her second throw was 29.16m and she fouled on her next.

 

Ennis landed a season’s best of 36.65 in the javelin, but it meant Sotherton had to run one of the fastest 800m races of her life to try to regain third spot. She ran her heart out, but finished third in 2:11.98. Lilli Schwarzkopf, of Germany, won the race in 2:11.85. Ennis was fourth in the race in 2:13.45.


Louise Hazel (Peterborough) was 17th with 5984, a PB score by 97 points, after an evening session where she was 22nd in the javelin with 38.60 and ran a best of 2:17.45 to finish 16th overall in the 800m.

 

Briton had two runners in the final of the 100m, but they both finished out of the medals. As Francis Obikwelu, of Portugal, won in a championship record of 9.99, Mark Lewis-Francis (Birchfield Harriers) was fifth in 10.16, a season’s best, with Dwain Chambers (Belgrave Harriers) seventh in 10.24.


Chambers, who was the 2002 champion before having his title taken away following his drugs relevations, has returned to the sport this summer. He said: “I am not happy. I have realised it aint that easy.”

 

Becky Lyne (Hallamshire Harriers), the former European under-23 champion, reached Thursday’s final of the 800m with another impressive, mature run.

 

She never looked like encountering trouble, staying in the middle of the pack for the first lap and then with 200m to go, slipping through on the inside to move into fourth.

 

With 100m to go, she broke out to move into second place and was happy enough to stay there to finish in 1:59.11 as Russian Svetlana Klyuka won the semi-final in 1:58.80.


But Britain’s other two representatives in the event are out. After being re-instated when she was cut-up, forcing her to fall, in the first round, Amanda Pritchard (Cardiff) was forced out of the semi because of the injuries she sustained the day before.

In the first semi-final, Jemma Simpson (Newquay & Par AC) was sixth in 2:01.12 as Olga Kotlyarova, of Russia, won in 2:00.03.

Tim Benjamin (Belgrave Harriers) was hoping the rounds of a major competition would help him along the way after a year of injury but it did not quite prove to be that way.


He made it through to tomorrow’s final of the 400m, but only after finishing fourth in his semi in 45.67 as Leslie Djhone, of France, won in 45.23.

 

”It hit me hard with 120m to go,”  said Benjamin. “And when it hits you, it hurts. I am still hopeful of a medal, but I just have not had enough races.”

 

The other Britons who made it into the semis, Graham Hedman (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) and Robert Tobin (Basingstoke & Mid Hants), both failed to progress further.


Tobin was sixth in Benjamin’s race in 46.03 while Hedman finished in the same position in the first semi in 45.90 as Marc Raquil, of France, won in 44.95.

Natasha Danvers Smith (Shaftesbury Barnet) is through to the final of the 400m hurdles after finishing third in her semi in 55.14 as Yevgeniya Isakova, of Russia, won in 54.17.


But Lee McConnell (Shaftesbury Barnet) is out. She was fifth in the first semi in 55.61 as Fani Halkia, of Greece, the Olympic champion, won in 54.57.