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Reasons for cheer after Euros

Clockwise from top left: Mo Farah, Dwain Chambers, women's relay team, men's relay team
Farah and Chambers won individual golds, while the relay teams both took silver

Mark Butler
By Mark Butler
BBC Sport's athletics statistician takes a look at the numbers behind the big races

Although Dwain Chambers and Mo Farah provided highlights for Britain last weekend, the team fell short of their target of six medals at the European Indoor Championships.

Two years ago, with home advantage in Birmingham, GB headed the medal table with four golds and 10 medals in total.

But things are not as bad as they may look.

Britain's Turin total of 76 placement points was actually their fourth best ever at the championships

Britain claimed a European indoor record through Chambers, who clocked 6.42 seconds (or 6.418 to be precise) in the 60m.

And Farah, our other new champion, set championship record figures of 7 minutes 40.17 seconds in the 3,000m.

Britain's other medals, both silvers, came in the relays and a total of four put the team fifth place on the medal table.

Assessing the overall performance, though, there is more to it than those stark figures.

GB's gold medals

Firstly, Britain were third after Russia and Germany in the placement table , which takes account of all finishers in the top eight.

Scoring eight points for first place in each event, down to one point for eighth, Britain's Turin total of 76 was actually their fourth best ever at the championships.

In addition to the medals, we had four fourth places, three fifths, four sixths and two eighths, which yielded a better points total than France or Italy .

Among these minor placings I would single out Steve Lewis's fourth spot which was the best ever by a British pole vaulter , and with a better height than won the bronze in Beijing.

GB's position in medal table

Second, we know Britain have athletes who would have been good enough to win medals in Turin but were absent because of injuries (Phillips Idowu, Kelly Sotherton) or had opted out of competing indoors this winter (Lisa Dobriskey, Jeanette Kwakye, Germaine Mason, Nicola Sanders).

Finally, I feel that third or even fifth place in Europe is hardly disastrous when you consider that our national soccer teams did not reach the final 16 in their own championships last year.

As our footballers and Eurovision Song Contest entrants have found, it is much harder to succeed in Europe these days.

Since the political upheaval of 1989, there are more countries providing contenders for medals and placings.

GB's position in placement table
Eight points awarded for first place, down to one point for eighth in each event

At the first European Indoor Championships in 1970, 14 countries won medals and 23 placed among the top eight of individual events.

Last weekend in Turin, the totals were up to 21 and 32 respectively, and these were not records.

Countries like Estonia, which did not exist independently 20 years ago, are now providing exciting new stars like Mikk Pahapill and Ksenija Balta.

Evidence that the athletics world is spinning faster is that for the first time ever at the European Indoors, no athlete retained a title .

Since Birmingham 2007, Britain's record in athletics at European level has been excellent.

At the Olympic Games in Beijing last August, only Russia had a better placement total among European nations.

Germany for instance won just a single Olympic bronze, but that country has now bounced back in style with their unexpected successes in Turin.

Sebastian Bayer
Sebastian Bayer's new European indoor long jump record was the highlight of the Championships

German Sebastian Bayer's new European indoor long jump record can be regarded as the performance of the 30th European Indoor Championships.

You could park two full-sized cars in a space of the length Bayer jumped

Simply, a man took off from one point and landed 8.71 metres away without the assistance of wheels, sails or anything else other than the momentum from 45 metres or so of sprinting.

Try measuring out a distance of 8.71m (or 28 feet 7 inches) on the ground - this might be tricky as many standard retractable measuring tapes only go up to 8m.

You could park two full-sized cars in a space of that length, which is about four and a half feet longer than the width of a regulation goal in soccer.

Long jump records like this are few and far between. The record Bayer broke was 10 years old, but remember the even more durable marks of Bob Beamon and Lynn Davies, who held world and UK records for 23 and 33 years respectively.

606: DEBATE

Bayer's new mark could well last for another generation.

The long jump was one of three field events in which Germany won two of the three medals and they also produced a confirmed new world number-one woman high jumper and their fastest woman sprinter for a decade.

It is the best possible news for the hosts of the biggest sporting event of the year, the IAAF World Championships in Berlin in August.

GB AT THE EUROPEAN INDOORS

Year Medal table posn Medals - G/S/B Placement table posn Placement table points
1970 5th 2/0/0 9th 23
1971 5th 2/1/1 6th 40
1972 No medals =13th 13
1973 =9th 1/0/0 =10th 19
1974 =9th 1/1/0 5th 41
1975 4th 3/1/0 =7th 34
1976 4th 1/2/1 8th 29
1977 3rd 3/2/0 5th 51
1978 13th 0/1/2 =6th 29
1979 5th 1/1/2 5th 41
1980 =15th 0/0/1 =11th 13
1981 14th 0/02 8th 32
1982 13th 0/0/2 10th 29
1983 9th 0/3/0 7th 37
1984 4th 2/1/1 7th 42
1985 2nd 3/0/2 5th 54
1986 5th 1/1/1 7th 35.5
1987 6th 2/1/3 5th 78
1988 6th 2/2/2 5th 67
1989 2nd 4/4/1 2nd 94
1990 4th 2/1/2 =4th 71.5
1992 4th 2/1/2 6th 59.7
1994 2nd 5/0/2 5th 62
1996 7th 1/3/0 8th 40
1998 4th 3/1/2 4th 74
2000 =6th 2/1/2 4th 55
2002 5th 2/3/2 5th 62.5
2005 6th 1/4/1 4th 74
2007 1st 4/3/3 2nd 120
2009 5th 2/2/0 3rd 76


see also
When is a record not a record?
19 Feb 09 |  Athletics
Chambers storms to gold in Turin
08 Mar 09 |  Athletics
GB end Euros with relay silvers
08 Mar 09 |  Athletics
Van Commenee rues missed targets
08 Mar 09 |  Athletics
Farah cruises home to 3,000m gold
07 Mar 09 |  Athletics


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