The British team secured four medals on the final day of the European U23 Championships in Tallinn, Estonia to bring the total to eight medals.
Molly Caudery [pole vault], Lucy Hadaway [long jump], Thomas Randolph [800m] and Erin Wallace [1500m] all reached the podium as the Championships rounded off at the Kadriorg Stadium.
It was a silver medal for Molly Caudrey (Stuart Caudery, Thames Valley) in the pole vault after going neck and neck with the eventual winner, Amalie Svabikova (CZE). With both women clearing 4.45m, a season’s best for the British Athletics Futures Academy athlete, she passed at 4.50 metres to try and win it with a height of 4.55m. However, after two fouls at that height the victory went to the Czech athlete.
A delighted Caudrey said, “I am really really happy with that. It is slightly bittersweet with that ending as I took two follow throughs at 4.55 but it is great to get a medal. 4.45 is a great height and it was a very long competition.”
There were three bronze medals for the British team in the space of ten minutes at the start of an exciting final session.
First, Erin Wallace (Andy Young, Giffnock North) fought hard on the final straight and threw herself over the line to secure the bronze in the 1500m in 4:14.85. The race had been a tactical battle all the way through with all the athletes still in the race as the bell went. As they entered the home straight, Wallace was in contention for bronze and despite the last-ditch efforts of Spain’s Agueda Munoz, Wallace just had enough to secure her place on the podium.
After the race she said, “I thought I am not going to make it if I don’t throw myself at the line so that’s what I did and I am glad I did. It was worth it for the medal. I think I ran the race well although the last lap really hurt but I am so so glad I got a medal. I saw a wee space at 200m so took my chance and then pushed on to the line.”
Meanwhile an exceptionally high-class long jump competition was coming to its conclusion. Lucy Hadaway (Matt Barton, City of York) leapt a PB in round four of 6.63m (+1.7) following a 6.55m personal best in round three to take the bronze medal. She matched the 6.63m leap in the final round to further consolidate her impressive result. The competition was won by Hungary’s Petra Farkas with a best of 6.73m.
Hadaway was happy with her consistency during both the final and qualification, “It is my first medal for GB and I still haven’t processed it. I wasn’t completely happy with any of the jumps (in qualification), but I knew there was something bigger. To get PB after PB and jump over 6.60m for the first time, especially as I have had limited training following injury and covid, so I am so happy to have come into form and come away with a bronze medal today. The standard in the long jump is just insane, so it is really special to be involved in it.”
The three British athletes in the men’s 800m final were looking to continue Britain’s great history at this event over recent years. In a very exciting and hard-fought race with six runners still in with a chance of a medal in the final few metres remaining, Thomas Randolph (Craig Winrow, Tamworth) dipped at the line to secure third place and the bronze medal in a PB of 1:46.41 with Ben Pattison (Dave Ragan, Basingstoke and Mid Hants) a whisker behind him in fourth in 1:46.48 and Finlay McLear (Exeter) sixth in 1:47.52.
Afterwards an elated and bloodied Randolph said, “This season has been amazing. I aimed for the time, got that, got selected and aimed for the final thinking anything can happen and it has! You can’t beat a PB in a tactical race like that and to come away with a bronze medal is special. I was happy too start in lane eight so I see people. On the bend I could see a space and took it and thought I could get the win, but the legs couldn’t quite manage that.”
It was an excellent fourth place for Joel Khan (Deidre Elmhurst, Worcester) in the high jump final. With four athletes clear at 2.17m he was agonisingly close with his final jump at 2.20m and had to settle for fourth place on the countback after one foul at 2.17m.
The British Championships silver medallist, said, “It is a difficult position to be in as I know I could have won it but I’m not disappointed because I enjoyed that final jump so much. To know I was so close to winning with that jump with the crowd behind me is exactly why I do this sport. It was fantastic to get that international experience that I need.”
During the morning session, the women’s javelin final took place with Bekah Walton (David Turner, Blackheath & Bromley) finishing in fifth place with her first throw in the series of 53.46m. The British champion couldn’t quite match her PB of 54.27m from the qualifying on Friday but was happy with the consistency of her performance in Tallinn.
The Loughborough student said, “I came in ranked 22nd and came out fifth so I shouldn’t be disappointed but having sat in a medal position for so long, you really want a taste of it, so it is little bittersweet. I’ll walk away happy and keep looking to improve for the rest of the season.”
In the final of women’s 4 x 400m relay, Britain finished in fifth position in a time of 3:33.06.
Hannah Kelly (Les Hall, Bolton) got the team off to a solid start, handing over to Zoe Pollock (Nick Dakin, Oxford City) who impressed in the 400m hurdles earlier in the Championship. She handed over to heptathlon bronze medallist Holly Mills (Laura Turner-Alleyne, Andover) in a tie for fifth position, which Mills maintained as she handed over to Isabelle Boffey (Luke Gunn, Enfield & Haringey) for the anchor leg. The 800m champion, who has starred in the 4x400m relay at previous championships, brought the team home, as Czech Republic sealed the gold.
The British outfit ultimately finished sixth in the men’s 4 x 400m relay final as a collision between a number of teams saw the British and Swiss athletes floored as they entered the home straight, which would later see the Dutch team, who crossed the line in gold medal position, disqualified.
Lewis Davey (Newham & Essex Beagles) had put the British team in the lead after leg one as he handed to Alex Haydock-Wilson (Michael Baker, Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow). He ran well to exchange the baton to Aidan Leeson (Glyn Hawkes, Rugby & Northampton) in second before the incident on third leg unfolded. Leeson showed real determination to get back to his feet to handover to Alastair Chalmers (Matt Elias, Guernsey) who brought the team home in 3:09.28.
Mid-session, the 5000m women had been ready to start when the stadium experienced a power cut forcing an interruption in competition. Once resumed, Izzy Fry (Mick Woods, Newbury) competed hard to finish eighth in 16:01.30.
She said afterwards, “It felt like we waited for 20 minutes, and I tried to stay calm and not use too much energy. Once the race started, I stayed with the pack for a long while but chopped and changed positions a bit so maybe used too much energy. Then when the break went, I couldn’t go with it but the gap never changed so that was frustrating.”
In the 4 x 100m women’s relay final the British team saw Alisha Rees pull up with an injury on the second leg, so were unable to finish.
The British quartet of Ellie Booker (Lewis Samuel, Rotherham), Alisha Rees (Leon Baptiste, Edinburgh AC), Georgina Adam (Joe McDonnell, Loughborough Students) and Kristal Awuah (Matthew Thomas, Herne Hill) had cruised through their heat in a European U23 record of 43.62 to see off strong challenges from France and Italy.
In the men’s sprint relay final, the team of Dominic Ashwell (Marvin Rowe, Shaftesbury Barnet), Jeremiah Azu (Helen Patricia James, Cardiff), James Hanson (Woking, Jake Awe) and Brandon Mingeli (Ryan Freckleton, Cambridge Harriers) did not finish after an unsuccessful baton change at the first handover.
Earlier, the British team of James Hanson, Jeremiah Azu, Dominic Ashwell and Destiny Ogali (Winston Thomas, Dacorum & Tring) had qualified comfortably.
British team medals:
Jeremiah Azu – Men’s 100m
Isabelle Boffey – Women’s 800m
Molly Caudery – Women’s Pole Vault
Kristal Awuah – Women’s 100m
Lucy Hadaway – Women’s Long Jump
Holly Mills – Women’s Heptathlon
Thomas Randolph – Men’s 800m
Erin Wallace – Women’s 1500m