Three golds leave Poland top of the final medals table

Three golds leave Poland top of the final medals table
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Poland's Adam Kszczot and Marcin Lewandowski won gold and silver in the men's 800m on Sunday. 

Poland finished top of the medals table for the first time at the 23rd European Athletics Championships thanks to three golds on the final day from Adam Kszczot (800m), Angelika Cichocka (1500m) and Pawel Fajdek (hammer) which brought their total to six.

Germany and Britain finished second and third respectively with 16 medals, including five golds apiece. Turkey were fourth (12 medals, four golds) and the host nation fifth (seven medals, four golds).

Sunday's Track Events:

The Netherlands’s fourth and final gold arrived thanks to the women’s 4x100m relay team led by their poster girl Dafne Schippers who ran a super-charged second leg, handing over a commanding lead which her colleagues Tessa Van Schagen and anchor runner Naomi Sedney maintained to the line, powering them through to a national record 42.04.

Britain’s male sprint relay team (Dasaolu, Gemili, Ellington, Ujah) came home for gold in 38.17, with France, anchored by Jimmy Vicaut second (38.38) ahead of Germany (38.47).

The women’s 1500m, won by Cichocka from home favourite Sifan Hassan was one of the most extraordinary “tactical” races in championship history, resembling an athletic version of a slow bicycle race for the first kilometre before flaring into life.

Having passed 400m in 1:03.15, and 800 in 2:46.05, the field suddenly lengthened as Spain’s Solange Pereira accelerated, and soon Hassan, whose preparations since winning the world indoor title in March have been affected by injury, took up a lead which she held into the final straight.

But she was looking back anxiously over her left shoulder, and soon the taller and more powerful Pole moved past on the outside to win in 4:33.00.

It was the slowest winning time ever at this event since it was first run at the Europeans in 1969, the previous slowest being 4:18.78 in 1994.

Hassan just hung onto silver in 4:33.76 as Ireland’s fast-finishing Ciara Mageean earned bronze in 4:33.78.

The men’s 5000m also provided some extraordinary stats as all three medallists were given the same time and had to be decided by photo-finish.

Hayle Ibrahimov’s hopes of winning a first European medal for Azerbaijan, raised as he led from 1000m all the way through to the home straight but then vanished in the final 50m as five runners flowed past him before finishing virtually in a line.

Once the photo-finish had been consulted, Spain’s Ilias Fifa emerged as winner in 13:40.85, on thousandths of a second from compatriot Adel Mechaal, who was given the same time. Astonishingly the bronze medallist, Richard Ringer of Germany, was also timed at 13:40.85, just 0.01 ahead of the previous night’s 1500m bronze medallist, Henrik Ingebrigtsen.

Sarah Petersen became the first Danish woman to win a European title in the history of the event as she maintained her lead down the home straight to come home in a season’s best 55.12 in the women’s 400m hurdles final.

Joanna Linkiewicz of Poland followed her home (55.33), with Switerland’s Lea Sprunger claiming bronze (55.41).

Germany’s Gesa-Felicitas Krause took the women’s 3000m steeplechase in 9:18.85, the fastest run by a European this year, with Albania’s Luiza Gega winning her country’s first ever European medal as she claimed silver in a national record 9:28.52.

Bronze went to Ozlem Kaya of Turkey, who had tried in vain to bridge the gap from the pack, in 9:35.05.

Kszczot, Poland’s defending 800m champion, produced a characteristically smart and sharp display to defend his title in 1:45.18, moving to the front around the final bend after home runner Thijmen  Kupers, hoping to run something out of the super-fast finishers behind him, had led from the start.

Twenty metres from the line Kszczot looked over his shoulder, but he had done enough. His teammate Marcin Lewandowski took silver in 1:45.54 ahead of Elliot Giles of Britain, who was given the same time as he won a surprise bronze in a personal best ahead Amel Tuka (1:45.74) and Pierre-Ambroise Bosse (1:45.79).

Britain had been targeting a double gold finale to these Championships as their men’s and women’s 4x400m teams had qualified fastest.

The women came good, with individual bronze medallist Anyika Onuora helping to create a 30m lead that was still 10 metres as Seren Bundy-Davies brought the baton home in 3:25.95, the fastest time run in the world this year. France took silver in 3:25.96 with bronze going to Italy in 3:27.49.

Britain sought the men’s 4x400m relay gold without employing Martyn Rooney, who defended his individual title here, and as 2014 European individual silver medallist Matthew Hudson-Smith entered the final straight in habitually elegant style with a 10m lead, all seemed well.

But Hudson-Smith’s habitual panache vanished as Belgium’s 2010 European champion Kevin Borlée came storming past with Poland’s Rafael Omelko right behind him.

Belgium – who also fielded Borlée brothers Jonathan and Dylan – rounded off a family triumph in 3:01.10, the fastest European time this year. Poland, in 3:01.18, earned silver ahead of Britain, who clocked 3:01.44.