Gold medals galore as Europe has a night to remember at London 2017

Great Britain's winning 4x100m team at the IAAF World Championships London 2017
European Athletics

Great Britain's winning 4x100m team at the IAAF World Championships London 2017

The incredible versatility of European athletes was shown to the fore on a memorable penultimate night at the IAAF World Championships London 2017.

There was a clean sweep in the women’s high jump, there was a clean sweep in the decathlon, there was a cleans weep in the men’s javelin and, to top it all off, Great Britain’s men won the 4x100m in a European record.

What a series of champions to take into next summer when Berlin 2018 hosts the European Athletics Championships in conjunction with Glasgow and the first multi-sports European Championships.

The last event of the penultimate night of action at the London Stadium was built around one man, Usain Bolt, as the Jamaican prepared to run for the last time.

But from the sprinter that has rewritten history, it was the record books of European Athletics that had four new names and one time to write into it as Great Britain won the 4x100m in 37.47, breaking the mark of 37.73 they had held since the 1999 world championships.

CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili, Danny Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake combined in brilliant fashion to triumph in a dramatic race which saw Bolt pull up injured in the home straight.

But the Britons were ahead at the last baton change and never looked like losing, beating favourites USA by 0.05.

It was an unforgettable race and only the second time Europe has won the men’s 4x100m relay at the World Championships, as this British quartet followed France in Helsinki in 2005.

"We said we knew we could do it, but when we did it, we did it with a bang,” said Ujah.

Gemili said: "This is the best feeling in the world.” Talbot added: "We've worked so hard for this - we wanted the gold so much.”

And Mitchell-Blake simply said: "I am a world champion, wow!"

Mariya Lasitskene at the IAAF World Championships London 2017
Mariya Lasitskene at the IAAF World Championships London 2017

It was some end to the evening for European Athletics where the first champion to be crowned was Russia’s Mariya Lasitskene, competing as an Authorised Neutral Athlete, as she retained her high jump title from Beijing. She did it with a winning mark of 2.03m before going on to unsuccessfully attempt 2.08m.

Ukraine’s Yulia Levchenko took silver with a personal best of 2.01m and Poland’s former world indoor champion Kamila Licwinko won bronze with 1.99m in a competition which saw European women take the top eight places.

Lasitskene has been unbeatable on the IAAF Diamond League circuit and beyond this year but sometimes the atmosphere of a championship can change things.

Not in her case.

She had only one failure on her way to gold, when she knocked the bar over at 1.99m, but she quickly moved on to 2.01m which she cleared first time, as she did at 2.03m for victory.

“A gold medal here was my main goal for this season but certainly I would like to raise the bar a bit higher,” said Lasitskene.

After taking the lead in the decathlon on Saturday at the end of the shot put, the third discipline, France’s Kevin Mayer never looked back as he confirmed his place as the best multi-event exponent in the world.

He was ahead at every stage of the competition after that, leading overnight with 4478 points from Germany’s Kai Kazmirek (4421) and Rico Freimuth (4361).

Decathlon medallists at the IAAF World Championships London 2017
Decathlon medallists at the IAAF World Championships London 2017

The top three then ended up with the medals, with Mayer winning with a world-lead of 8768 from Freimuth with 8564 and Kazmirek with 8488 and in fourth, Estonia’s European Combined Events Team Championships Super League winner Janek Oiglane improved his best by 201 points with 8371.

At the end, Mayer could hardly talk he was so exhausted and said: “I am so, so tired. I cannot even imagine I am the world champion.”

Mayer was only 66 points off his overall personal best which he set in winning the Rio 2016 Olympic Games silver medal and set three individuals top marks: in the 100m (10.70), the 400m (48.26) and the 110m hurdles (13.75).

It has been some year in the men’s javelin and world number one Johannes Vetter confirmed that position by winning with his opening throw and then creating one of the most memorable moments of the championships before his final attempt.

His victory came with a brilliant 89.89m and as he prepared for his last go, knowing he was the champion, everything got to him.

He started to cry and the tears were still there as he threw 87.71m before lying flat out in his back with arms stretched out in celebration.

Vetter revealed: “It was amazing for me. It was very emotional for me at the end because of the pressure in the last few weeks and days.”

Johannes Vetter at the IAAF World Championships London 2017
Johannes Vetter at the IAAF World Championships London 2017

It was a dramatic competition, though, as Czech Republic took silver and bronze with Jakub Vadlejch and Petr Frydrych throwing 89.73m and 88.32m respectively, both men making the podium with personal bests.

And for Frydrych, what a way to achieve it with his final effort, which sent Vetter’s German teammate and Rio champion Thomas Röhler, who had thrown 88.26m in the second round, down into fourth place.

Britain’s Mo Farah ended his major championship career on the track by winning silver in the 5000m in 13:33.22 as Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris took gold in 13:32.79 and prior to their men winning the 4x100m, Great Britain’s women relay team of Asha Philip, the European indoor 60m champion, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita defied expectations and took the silver in 42.12 behind the USA.

Completing the European medal haul, in the 100m hurdles there was bronze for Germany’s Pamela Dutkiewicz in 12.72 as Australia’s Sally Pearson won in 12.59.

It was a night European Athletics will remember for a long time.