Great Britain tops the medal table after three track titles on final day

Great Britain 800m
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Oliver Dustin leads Great Britain to a clean sweep of the medals in the 800m at the Boras 2019 European Athletics U20 Championships

World U20 leader Max Burgin might have been missing from these championships due to injury but the British contingent still thoroughly dominated the 800m final in his absence, one of three gold medals for the Brits on the final day of competition at the Boras 2019 European Athletics U20 Championships.

In a race which evoked memories of the halcyon days of British middle distance running in the 1970s and 1980s, the British triumvirate of Ben Pattison, Finley McLear and Oliver Dustin slingshotted themselves off the final bend and into the home straight in that order with a significant lead over the chasers. 

Dustin trailed Pattison and McLear into the home straight but the 18-year-old prevailed in an almighty tussle with Pattison - who has the fastest lifetime best at 1:46.71 - winning in 1:50.56 to Pattison’s 1:50.68 - limbs flailing everywhere - off a pedestrian first lap of 57.9. 

“At the start of the year, I would have taken just getting here, now I’m the champion," said the winner. "I’m just so overwhelmed with emotion. I’ve worked so hard for this. So many miles in the winter, so many times I’ve been lying on the track on a horrible Tuesday night in Cumbria thinking ‘why do I do this?’ But this is why. To battle with the best and coming through strong." 

The Brits might have gapped the field but a prospective clean sweep came under some doubt after McLear’s legs gave way midway down the home straight. His faltering legs only just reached the finish-line before giving way as soon as the bronze medal was assured. 

“From the start all I was thinking was to leave everything on the track - if I win, I win. I can't complain - I didn't win, but I left everything on the track, and I come away with a medal, so I'm happy about it,” said McLear. “I can't really remember the last hundred meters.”

Fresh from her victory last night in the 200m final, Amy Hunt doubled her title tally after combining with her teammates to win the women’s 4x100m. 

Hunt joined forces with Cassie-Ann Pemberton, Georgina Adam and anchor runner Immanuela Aliu who brought the baton home in 44.11, holding off a late charge from individual silver medallist N’Ketia Seedo from the Netherlands in 44.21 and Germany in 44.34. “At 17, coming here and winning double gold is absolutely insane,” said Hunt. “To do it alongside my teammates is very special.”

In the men’s 4x100m, Lucas Ansah-Peprah was handed the baton in third but the German ran a storming anchor leg to overhaul Italy’s Lorenzo Patta and Great Britain’s Sagesse Nguie to win the title in 39.79.

Ansah-Peprah pipped Nguie on the line by 0.01 but the British quartet were later disqualified for a late exchange. Italy were promoted to silver in 39.89 with the Dutch team - which didn’t even include their individual 200m winner Onyema Adigida - moving into the medals in 40.28.

The Brits won their third gold medal of the session in the women’s 4x400m relay by a dominant margin. Anchored by individual silver medallist Amber Anning, the Brits clocked 3:33.03 to win by four seconds while 0.63 separated the next four teams with Belarus (3:37.06) and Poland (3:37.13) prevailing in a bunfight for silver and bronze medals.

The championships concluded with a thrilling men’s 4x400m relay which saw 17-year-old anchor runner Ilyas Canakci improve from fifth to a fantastic first in the home straight, getting a fortuitous free run on the inside which allowed him to charge home with the baton in hand to win for Turkey in 3:08.34 from Czech Republic (3:08.50), Spain (3:08.66) and reigning champions Italy (3:08.76).