Table-topping Britain win five golds on extraordinary last day in Zurich

Zurich
European Athletics

Great Britain had a fantastic final day at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich adding five gold medals to their total to finish top of the team standings.

A sensational, emotion-packed final afternoon of the European Athletics Championships in Zurich on Sunday had just about everything possible in three stupendous hours of sport at the Letzigrund Stadium.

There was delight for Great Britain, who won five golds to ensure a record-breaking event as they finished top of the table with 23 medals.

There was heartbreak for Switzerland's lead runner Mujinga Kambundji who dropped the baton as she left her blocks in the 4x100m relay.

There was personal satisfaction for France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad who won the 1500m after being disqualified in the 3000m steeplechase.

There was disbelief for Spain's Ruth Beitia who retained her high jump title at the age of 35.

And, perhaps above everything else, there was the celebration of life for Germany's Antje Moldner-Schmidt who won the 3000m steeplechase just four years after battling cancer.

Track and field athletics does not come better than this - and for Britain, a day for the individual double as they finished with 12 golds overall from their set of 23, beating their record of 19 from the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona in 2010.

France were second, with nine golds in their 23, and Germany were third with four golds from their eight.

Mo Farah, Martin Rooney and Adam Gemili all won their second titles of the week before Greg Rutherford added the European crown to his Olympic and Commonwealth titles and the British women's 4x100m team ended the track competition with glory.

Let us start there in a race where Asha Philip, Ashleigh Nelson, Jodie Williams and Desiree Henry soared around to win in 42.24 from France in 42.45 and Russia in 43.22.

But as the medallists celebrated, Kambundji just sat on her haunches in despair. There had been a huge noise from the crowd, chanting for the Swiss runners, but as Kambundji left her blocks she dropped the baton and they never made it to the first change. Her teammates consoled her but there was little they could do to take away the pain.

Infact, it was one dramatic race because arguably the woman of the championships, Dafne Schippers, of the Netherlands, the 100m and 200m champion, was at the centre of a disastrous first baton change as Madiea Ghafoor came charging round and they never got any further.

But what a day for Britain.

With an injection of speed as the bell rang on the last lap, Farah made the break that took him to his third successive 5000m crown at the European Athletics Championships to go alongside his 10,000m gold.

It was the same double he achieved in Barcelona, victories there which became the foundation for his dominance on the track where he is also the Olympic and world champion at both distances.

Farah won in 14:05.82 from Hayle Ibrahimov, of Azerbaijan, who was second in 14:08.32 with Britain's Andy Vernon, who landed silver behind Farah in the 10,000m, taking bronze in 14:09.48.

Gemili, the 200m champion, won his second gold medal with another fabulous burst of speed on the last leg of the 4x100m. James Ellington set Britain on their way, handing onto Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and then Richard Kilty before Gemili brought them home in 37.93 from Germany in 38.09 and France in 38.47.

And like Gemili, the individual 400m champion Rooney anchored Britain to relay glory - in the 4x400m relay.

Led off by Conrad Williams, he handed over to Matthew Hudson-Smith, the individual silver medallist, and then Michael Bingham before Rooney as Britain won in a European leading time of 2:58.79. Russia took silver in 2:59.38 with Poland winning bronze in 2:59.85.

Rutherford has asserted his authority over the long jump and he won gold with his fourth round effort of 8.29m from Greece's Louis Tsatoumas with 8.15m and Kafetien Gomis, of France, with 8.14m.

A few days after being disqualified for removing his shirt in the home straight of the 3000m steeplechase as he won, Frenchman Mekhissi-Benabbad found himself back on the podium as he stormed away to take the 1500m.

He triumphed in 3:54.35 from Norway's defending champion Henrik Ingebrigsten, in 3:46.10, and Britain's Chris O'Hare, in 3:46.18, and said: "My only possible reaction after the disqualification was to go back and win this title - for my family, for those who are close to me, for my coach."

The women's 3000m steeplechase was a remarkable moment for Moldner-Schmidt who came through over the final barrier to win after her cancer battle in 2010.

Sweden's Charlotta Fougberg had led at the bell and she was still in front entering the home straight but Moldner-Schmidt was always threatening.

She made her move over the last and could hardly believe it as she won, raising her hands as she reached the line before putting them on her head.

Moldner-Schmidt triumphed in 9:29.43 from Fougberg in 9:30.16 with Spain's Diana Martin third in 9:30.70.

At 35, and in a career where she has retired in the past before returning, Spain's Beitia successfully defended her high jump title to improve on her record from Helsinki of 2012 of being the oldest women's medallist in the event at this championship.

She achieved it in style with a world-leading clearance of 2.01m as she beat Russia's Mariya Kuchina, who was second on countback with 1.99m from Ana Simic, of Croatia.

France's women won a thrilling 4 x400m gold in just about the last stride of the final.

The combined team of Marie Gayot, Muriel Hurtis, Agnes Raharolahy and Floria Guei took gold  in a European-leading time of 3:24.27 from Ukraine in 3:24.32 and Britain in 3:24.32.

Germany's Christina Schwanitz, the European Athletics Indoor champion, won her first major outdoor shot put title with a fine series, taking gold with 19.90m from the second round as she beat Russia's Yevgeniya Kolodko with 19.39m and Anita Marton, of Hungary, with 19.04m.

The javelin was the last event to finish with gold and bronze going to Finland.

Antti Ruuskanen won with a European-lead of 88.01m from round three as Vitezslav Vesely, of the Czech Republic, took silver with 84.79m and Tero Pitkamaki finished third with 84.40m.

And then it was time to draw breath. Wow, it had been some afternoon.