Ukraine surprise wins makes up for dropped baton
|Ukrainian runner Alina Lohvynenko celebrates after crossing
the finish line during the 4x400m relay on Sunday.
Yuliya Olishevska gave them a solid start on leg one but they were only fifth in 52.6.
At this stage France’s Pahara Anarcharsis (51.7) was ahead of Germany’s Esther Cremer (52.0) and Czech Zuzana Hejnova, who was fourth in the 400m hurdles, timing 52.2.
Ukraine’s second leg runner Olha Zemlyak had a storming run though and with a strong finish she put Ukraine ahead at halfway in 1:43.06, courtesy of the race’s fastest leg of 50.4.
Germany, through Janin Lindenberg’s 51.1 were a tenth back on 1:43.16 and France through Lenora Guion Firmin (51.4) in the other medal positions.
Great Britain, who had their last victory in the 4x400 and the inaugural race in 1969, have won three bronze medals and after a modest start from Shana Cox (52.4 in fourth) and being kept in contention by former world silver medallist Nicola Sanders who timed 51.5 and they were still fourth in 1:43.92. A strong third leg by the 2002 bronze medallist Lee McConnell of 51.42 moved them into third at the changeover in 2:35.34 with Germany on 2:35.37 and Czech Republic on 2:35.43 as a few metres covered the three teams battling for bronze.
Ahead through Natilya Pyhyda ran a storming 50.52 leg for Ukraine to give them a clear eight metre and exact one second lead in 2:33.58 over France on 2:34.58, for whom Marie Gayot ran 51.35.
Ukraine, through Alina Lohvynenko maintained their lead on the final leg with a 51.49 carry and they won by around three metres but never really looked like they would be caught.
Zemlyak, their fastest said, “It was a really exciting race and the first time we have run together.”
The big battle was for second. Britain’s 400m hurdler Eilidh Child went into second 200m out as she passed France’s Floria Guia but closing fast was Denisa Rosalova of the Czech Republic. Child dropped to fourth as Rosolova, on her way to a 50.59 clocking in her fifth 400m of the Games, went by but she was overtaken by a strong sprint by Floria Guei, who gave France, the 1994 winners when the event was last in Helsinki, the silver in 3:25.49.
Child tried to repass Rosolova but the Czech slightly moved across to stop her coming through and they held on for bronze in 3:36.02. Child, who ran into the back of her rival, timed 50.86 and Britain had to settle for fourth.
Germany, who won in 1998 and 2002 were fifth. Note the German Democratic Republic had won every championships from 1971 to 1990.
Russia were a disappointing sixth with individual silver medallist making no impression with a disappointing 52.16 final leg.