Review Part II: Triumph beats adversity at European Athletics Championships
|Kevin Borlee celebrates as he crosses the finish line
to guide Belgium to 4x400m relay gold on the final
day of the European Athletics Championships in
Borlée, now 54, was beaten by 0.17 that day in Hungary but whatever he instilled in his children has worked as his twins Jonathan and Kevin demonstrated in the final event of the 2012 European Athletics Championships.
A rip-roaring 4 x 400m was playing out on the track of the Olympic Stadium and it was Great Britain who were justifying their place among the favourites as Nigel Levine and Conrad Williams put them in front.
But on that second leg, the chase began, started by Jonathan Borlee, 24, who took his team from seventh to second with a lap of 44.3.
It was thrilling stuff and after Jente Bouckart maintained the momentum on leg three, it was Jonathan's twin Kevin who grabbed the stick and produced a stunning 44.2 split to overhaul Richard Buck of Britain and take gold by 0.47 in 3:01.09.
Every picture tells a story and the way that Borlee raised his right arm, baton aloft in the air, with a big scream to go with it as he crossed the line, summed up the mood of celebration.
It was a brilliant performance from the Belgian quartet who had been sent on their way by Antoine Gillet.
Being on top of the podium was nothing new for Kevin, who won the individual 400m title at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona in 2010, an event where he combined with his brother for bronze in the relay.
But now Belgium head to the Olympic Games in London with the eighth fastest time in the world this year in listings that include three variations of teams from the USA.
It means the new European champions have an outstanding chance of winning a medal at the Games and they do not have to worry about where their influence is coming from.
Kevin said: "It's great to finish with a gold medal. The secret to our family of fast runners is a good team spirit."
Four years ago in Beijing, Olivia, 26, a 200m runner, helped her country win silver in a national record of 42.54 when she ran the first leg in the 4 x 100m behind Russia and now it is the chance of the boys to bring more Olympic honours back to the family house.
|Former Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia won his first
gold medal at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki.
Eight years on, he showed how he has lost none of his desire, belief or ability to win in Helsinki in 1:48.61, beating Andreas Bube, of Denmark, by 0.08.
"I am happy that I have my first gold at the European Athletics Championships," said Borzakovskiy who still has the ability to leave people on the edge of their seats when he runs.
The reason is simple: his trademark finish.
He has such a strong kick that with 100m to it does not matter if he is last. He can be nowhere, then suddenly he is on the outside overtaking the back markers and moving towards the leaders.
Can he do it? With each step, the noise normally grows, just as it did in Helsinki as victory arrives on the back of his confidence that even with little of the race left, he has enough.
Borzakovskiy will now head to the Olympic Games with a brilliant lift from his glory this glory. He is 31, but he cannot be ruled out of being in the shake-up after defying the years in Finland.
|Mo Farah successfully defended his European 5000m title in Helsinki.|
She is now 52, and retirement is just not even in the vocabulary.
Germany's women won gold in this event in 42.51, the quickest time by a European team, but Helsinki will also be remembered for the tears of the British relay runners, after Hayley Jones had veered out of her lane on leg three. The team were disqualified and went crashing out of the world 16 - and with it qualification for the Olympics on their home soil.
One team in tears, but others in jubilation as the Polish and Switzerland's squads produced times and performances that booked their place in London.
Sport never fails to put itself on a knife-edge such as this one.
What emotion in the relays from a European Athletics Championships that was given the classiest of starts by a man who has known all about heartbreak on this stage.
Mo Farah, the 5000m world champion, was beaten by the narrowest of margins at these Championships in Gothenburg in 2006 before returning four years later to win in Barcelona, where he doubled up to take 10,000m gold too.
His career took on a new status after that success and on his road to London, stopping off in Helsinki was an important port of call.
On the first night, the men's 5000m was the only final and Farah did not disappoint. He began slowly at the back of the field, he moved up when the pace increased and in the heat of the final 400m, he just sprinted away to triumph in 13:29.91, almost two seconds quicker than Arne Gabius, of Germany, who was second in 13:13.83 with Turkey's Polat Kemboi Arikan third in 13:32.63.
"It means so much to win a European title again because you never want to take things for granted," said Farah. "I came to Helsinki because the European Athletics Championships are an important event in the calendar."
Well said, Mo.
Goodbye Helsinki, 2012. Hello, Zurich, 2014. And may you bring us even more drama.