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ATHLETICS

Sweden’s Bahta denies Hassan to claim gold

Sweden's Meraf Bahta held off a late challenge from hot favourite Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands to win the 5,000m final at the European Athletic Championships in Zurich on Saturday.

Sweden's Bahta denies Hassan to claim gold
Photo: TT

The promise of Dutch delight turned to despair – and ultimately silver and bronze consolation – in the dramatic closing stages of the women's 5,000m final on the penultimate day of the European Athletics Championships in Zurich.

"With 100m to go I knew that nobody could beat me," said Bahta.

"I was never afraid to lose the duel with Hassan. This is my first time running for Sweden. It is great for me to hear the anthem for the first time."

Less than 24 hours after winning the 1500m final (on a night when Dafne Schippers completed a 100m sprint double), Sifan Hassan was closing on what would have been a famous double of her own and a record-equalling fourth for the Netherlands as she surged from seventh at the bell to the shoulder of Sweden's Meraf Bahta coming into the home straight.

A similar tactic had won the 21-year-old Ethiopian-born woman her metric mile crown in convincing fashion but this time she came up against an unyielding rival in Bahta.

The Eritrean refugee had pushed the pace from two laps out and dug deep to hold on for victory in 15min 31.39sec.

Hassan had to be content with silver, finishing 0.40sec, with her Dutch team-mate Susan Kuijken coming through for bronze and Jo Pavey, the 40-year-old 10,000m winner from Great Britain, down in sevent

The battle for first place in the medal table edged marginally in favour of France after wins for Renaud Lavillenie in the men's pole vault and Christelle Daunay in the women's marathon.

They have seven golds now, the same tally as Britain, but with 18 medals in all, three more than their rivals.

Lavillenie has been untouchable in 2014 and the Olympic champion extended his winning streak to a 20th competition with just two vaults.

After entering at 5.65m and clearing that at the first attempt, the Frenchman just needed a second time success at 5.90 to claim the gold.

He did, however, attempt to achieve his first 6m-plus vault of the outdoor season but registered three failures at  6.01m – 15cm shy of the world record he set indoors in Donetsk in February.

Daunay is not quite a member of the Fortysomething club – she turns 40 in December – but the French marathon runner maintained the gold standard for the older guard in Zurich, pulling clear after halfway to win the 26.2 mile event in 2 hr 25min 14sec – 13 seconds ahead of the 38-year-old Italian Valeria Straneo.

Farther down the field, there was a race within the race to become the first finisher between 28-year-old triplets from Estonia. It was won by Liina Luik, 29th in 2:41:18. Leila Luik was 43rd and Lily Luik 47th.

The seventh British gold came in the women's 400m hurdles. Favourite Eilidh Child held on for victory in 54.48sec, 0.08sec ahead of the fast-finishing Ukrainian Anna Titimets.

However, Child's fellow Scottish Commonwealth Games silver medallist Lynsey Sharp was unable to hang on after going our hard and fast in a bold defence of her 800m title.

She was caught and passed 80m from the line by Maryna Arzamasova, the Belarus athlete prevailing in 1 min 58.15sec. The consolation for Sharp was not just the silver but also a Scottish record: 1:58.80.

In the women's discus Croatia's Sandra Perkovic, the reigning world and Olympic champion, claimed gold with a 71.08m world lead and national record in the fifth round.

The men's hammer was a dramatic affair, Olympic champion Krisztian Parrs requiring a world leading throw of 82.69m in the final round to retain his title.

In the women's triple jump Ukraine's Olha Saladukha completed a hat-trick of titles, a second round effort of 14.73m edging out Russian Yekaterina Koneva by just 4cm.

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UK

Sweden snags six medals in Gothenburg

Sweden took home an unexpected tally of six medals at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Gothenburg at the weekend, including a spectacular gold by runner Abeba Aregawi.

Sweden snags six medals in Gothenburg

“It feels wonderful, the Swedish audience supported me very well,” 22-year-old Aregawi said after winning the women’s 1,500m, according to the event’s website.

Aregawi, a native of Ethiopia who is married to a Swede and took Swedish citizenship in 2009, took an early lead in the race and never looked back, crossing the finish line at the Scandinavium arena nearly ten seconds ahead of the next runner.

Aregawi’s gold on Saturday was Sweden’s only top finish in a weekend that nevertheless saw the Swedish athletics team capture a surprising six medals after coming up empty last summer at the Olympic games in London.

Also on Saturday, long jumper Erica Jarder’s leap of 6.71m was both a personal best and enough to qualify for a bronze medal.

On Sunday, sprinter Moa Hjelmer finished strong in the 400m sprint, managing to capture a bronze medal with a time of 52.04s and setting a new Swedish record in the process.

More medals were to come when long jumper Michel Tornéus’s jump of 8.29m gave him a silver medal as well as a new Swedish record.

Tornéus didn’t let the fact that he was a mere two centimetres from the gold, won by Russia’s Aleksandr Menkov, detract from his excitement.

“I’m more happy about it being silver than being disappointed that it wasn’t gold,” he told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

“I’ve never won a silver at a championship before, so this is going to be the best medal I have at home in my trophy case.”

The weekend concluded with a Swedish double in the women’s high jump, with Ebba Jungmark and Emma Green Tregaro both clearing 1.96m, resulting in a silver for Jungmark and bronze for Green Tregaro.

“I really dreamt of winning a gold medal here at home, but it wasn’t today. But I’m still really happy,” Jungmark told TV4 after the competition.

The Local/dl

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