Swede victory for Hjelmer in the 400m
|Moa Hjelmer of Sweden won the European 400m
gold in Helsinki on Friday.
She had run a season's best of 51.35 in her semi-final in running down Sweden's Moa Hjelmer which was the fastest time in qualifying.
In the final on Friday, roles were reversed and it was the Swede who finished the strongest and she passed the Russian in the last 10 metres to win in a national record 51.13, improving her 51.40 time from the semi-finals.
The race was one of the worst affected by Olympic connections. Both the British trials the week before and the Russian trials this coming weekend had affected the top end of the entry. However it was a still a cracking race with seemingly any one of a half dozen still in with a shout as they hit the straight.
Only one runner in the European top 10 competed and that was the Cuban-born Italian Libania Grenot who had run 50.52 this year but could also boast a 50.30 PB from 2009 and she had won the other semi-final in 52.02. Fourth in Barcelona, she looked to be heading for gold herself as she sped through 200m in well under 25 seconds.
As she hit the straight she seemed to tie up and the Russian, Swede and Britain's Lee McConnell were closing fast.
Hjelmer had started quickly but she seemed to relax around the final bend and even a medal looked unlikely but she kept her form superbly and with a final kick won by a metre from the Russian who timed a season's best of 51.26.
The Swede is just 22 years of age and her previous national record before Helsinki was 51.58 though she had only a best of 51.99 in 2012 before setting off to Finland. She was the European junior bronze medallist in 2009 and she won the European under 23 silver medal at 200m last year.
She had reached the semi-finals in the World Indoor Championships and ran the 4x100 in Barcelona, where she was part of Sweden's team that finished seventh. This was Sweden's first ever medal in the event.
She was a delighted gold medallist as the Finns seemed to enjoy one of their neighbouring country take the gold.
"I am just so surprised because I didn't expect a medal but of course I was hoping for it. I can hardly believe what happened."
Zadorina took her first outdoor individual medal in second. She had won the bronze medal in the European indoor 400m in 2011 and had won 4x400 medals in the 2011 World Championships and the 2010 European Athletics Championships.
It was tight for third and Ilona Usovich, who run 50.31 five years ago took bronze by around a metre in 51.94. The Belarusian was nowhere near her best form of the past where she won two world indoor silver medals and she showed the strength that saw her run 1:59.38 for 800m last year. As she won her countries first medal in the event.
She remarked, "Today I didn't feel nervous before the race. My running felt really easy but I'm not happy with my time. I was only aiming to get a medal. All the other girls thought it was cold today, but I love cold weather.
Ukraine's Olha Zemylak who served a two year doping ban from 2009 to 2011 missed a medal by seven hundredths of a second.
Also fading slightly after a fast start was McConnell. The bronze medallist from a decade ago had started quickly in the blind outside lane and she fell a few metres short in fifth place with 52.20.
The gold medallist from the same championships as McConnell over 200m, Muriel Hurtis was a distant last in 54.50.
The last race of the day wasn't lightening quick, indeed it was the slowest winning time since the race was in Helsinki back in 1971, and the lowering temperatures might not have helped but it was still a great end to another busy day in Helsinki.