Young stars lead GB to record medal haul

Young stars lead GB to record medal haul
By Eurosport

18/07/2011 at 23:07Updated 19/07/2011 at 00:10

Teenagers Holly Bleasdale and Lawrence Okoye both won gold on the final day of the European U23 Championships on Sunday, helping Great Britain to a record medal haul in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Pole vaulter Bleasdale, 19, who recently broke Kate Dennison's British record, sealed victory with a best clearance of 4.55m but such has been her rapid rise, she was disappointed to miss out on breaking Yelena Isinbayeva's championship record of 4.65m set back in 2003.

"It was really windy out there, it was fine in warm-up, but at 4.50m I could really feel it," said world junior bronze medallist Bleasdale, whose British record stands at 4.70m.

"I really wanted to beat the championship record but I'll put it down to the windy conditions because I felt really good.

"I've been watching the guys on the podium this week and I really wanted to be there, it really inspired me and ultimately you come to championships to win medals, so I'm really happy."

Okoye, who also recently broke Perriss Wilkins's 13-year-old British record, sealed discus gold with a best effort of 60.70m.

Again Okoye, 19, was disappointed not to get closer to his best of 67.63m but after scooping his first major title he's immediately set his sights of booking a place at next month's World Championships in Daegu.

"I'd been waiting all week for this final," he said. "I was disappointed with the distance but over the moon with the result.

"I didn't throw well but it's about winning titles and I think if I'd been more relaxed I might have thrown better.

"I'm looking forward to the World Trials now and I'll hopefully show everyone how well I can throw and make it onto that plane to Daegu."

Meanwhile, the 4x400m quartet of Nigel Levine, Thomas Phillips, Jamie Bowie and Luke Lennon-Ford stormed to gold as Great Britain finished the championships with 19 medals, good enough for second in the overall table.

Elsewhere, there was a 1500m silver medal for European Team Championships bronze medallist James Shane and silver for the men's 4x100m team of Andrew Robertson, Kieran Showler-Davis, Richard Kilty and Danny Talbot while Stevie Stockon claimed 5000m bronze in only second outing over the distance.

Great Britain team leader John Herbert said: "It's been a brilliant week all around. Right from the start I wanted everyone to buy into the word ‘team' and we've absolutely done that.

"As a staff team we were here to support a really talented group of athletes and we had great respect for one another, while the athletes have been one of the nicest groups I've come across.

"Right from the start we all connected and everyone knew that they were here to raise their game and perform, and there's no doubt they did that with six gold medals, five silvers and eight bronzes.

"We've broken our previous medal record and for me as team leader it's been a privilege and an honour to head up a team that's achieved that."