Zbären's form makes her a golden shot

Zbären's form makes her a golden shot
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Switzerland's Noemi Zbären is aiming to add under-23 gold to the 100m hurdles title she took in Rieti 2013.

Two years ago in Rieti, running out of lane five, Noemi Zbären was not the quickest from the blocks in the 100m hurdles final at the European Athletics Junior Championships. But all that matters is how you finish and the Swiss sprinter could not have been better.

Infact, with three barriers left, she realised the title was hers.

As she reflected on the win, she said: "I already had a smile on my face and I know I should have concentrated more on those last three hurdles."

But that was how in-charge she was, powering through to win by 0.17 in 13.17, a superb performance that was worth all the delighted punching of the air at the finish.

At 19, it was Zbären’s last flirtation with this level of the sport and it was not a bad way to go out.

Now for Tallinn next week and the European Athletics U23 Championships from 9-12 July where her form and progress make her the favourite.

And her preparations look spot on.

Last Thursday in Thun, she broke her personal best with a brilliant 12.85 to move to fifth on this year’s European Athletics rankings. She followed up that brilliant performance by running 12.94 in the heats and then 12.91 in the final in Nottwil last Saturday.

Time-wise, her career has been all about gradual progression over the barriers, with year-best times since 2011 of 13.61, 13.15, 13.04, 12.92 and now the 12.85 which will send signals out to the rest of her European rivals.

It is the same with medals, first it was silver - at the IAAF World Youth Championships in 2011 and World Junior Championships in 2012 - and then it was gold.

As she proved in Rieti, even as a teenager, she had the tenacity for the fight when ‘catch-up’ is needed early in the race to bring the perfect outcome.

In Tallinn she will be hoping for a similar result – and a similar smile too.