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Britain seal best medal haul at European Championships

Mo Farah and Chris Thompson

Team GB's gold medal performances

Great Britain secured their best return at a European Championships after winning medals in the men's and women's 4x400m relays on the final day.

A silver from the men and the women's bronze took the medals tally in Barcelona to 19, one more than the previous best from Split in 1990.

Head coach Charles van Commenee said he would have been "embarrassed" not to hit UK Sport's target of 10-15 medals.

"Overall it's very encouraging for the next few years," he told BBC Sport.

Great Britain's six gold medals helped them finish third in the overall medal table behind Russia and France.

Martyn Rooney

British quartet win 400m relay silver

The performance was in stark contrast to the last European Championships in Gothenburg in 2006, where the only title came in the men's 4x100m relay.

But with just under two years until the start of the 2012 Olympics in London, Van Commenee is already looking for further improvement.

"Quite a few athletes stepped up a level, but there is a lot of work to be done," he said.

While Britain's 19 medals was their best European total, the Split haul included nine wins.

World champions Jessica Ennis (heptathlon) and Phillips Idowu (triple jump) led the gold rush in Barcelona, with Mo Farah taking double success in the 5,000m and 10,000m.

Further titles went to Andy Turner in the 110m hurdles and Dai Greene in the 400m hurdles.

TOM FORDYCE'S BLOG

There was no fairytale finish on the final day, however, as Britain narrowly missed out on gold in the men's 4x400m relay, with a bronze for the women's team, and another for long jumper Chris Tomlinson.

The men were considered among the favourites, but had to battle in a tough race riddled with bumping and pushing among the competing runners.

After a solid start from Conrad Williams, the 400m silver medallist Michael Bingham and Rob Tobin were put under pressure and GB lay in fourth going into Martyn Rooney's final leg.

Rooney, who was third behind Bingham in the individual event, put in a spirited late charge to finish second - 0.11 seconds behind Russia's Vladimir Krasnov.

Charles van Commenee

Van Commenee encouraged by GB progress

He overhauled Jonathan Borlee of Belgium in the straight but Krasnov was too strong, winning in a time of three minutes 02.14 seconds.

"I was hoping to take advantage of the quick track," Rooney told BBC Sport afterwards. "I was hoping to get those pesky Russians but couldn't but it was a big team effort."

BBC pundit and former world and Olympic 400m champion Michael Johnson said it was a missed opportunity.

"The GB team, one of the favourites coming into this, should not have been in fourth place going into the anchor leg," he said.

"They should have got much more out of Bingham on the second leg but it was a great effort by Rooney."

For the women, Nicola Sanders, Marilyn Okoro, Lee McConnell and Perri Shakes-Drayton were third behind Russia and Germany.

Russia went into the relay as as strong favourites after their clean sweep in the individual event.

After good runs by Sanders, Okoro and McConnell, Shakes-Drayton worked hard on the anchor leg.

But the individual hurdles bronze medallist failed to get past Germany's Claudia Hoffmann, finishing in 3:24.32 seconds, three seconds behind the victorious Russians.

While Britain achieved a record haul of medals, team bosses know there will be tougher battles ahead at the 2011 World Championships in South Korea.

BBC closer

European Championships - the best bits

They also want to reduce the number of injuries suffered by key athletes.

Christine Ohuruogu (400m) Greg Rutherford (long jump), Goldie Sayers (javelin), Kelly Sotherton (heptathlon) and Jo Pavey (10,000m) all missed Barcelona.

"We have too many athletes at home with injuries. That needs to be addressed," said Van Commenee.

"We don't have enough athletes across the events, especially the field events, especially the women."

He separately labelled the performances of the sprint relay teams as a "disgrace".

London 2012 chief Lord Coe believes the future is bright for the team ahead of their home Olympics although he acknowledged Dutchman Van Commenee still has work to do.

"I think the team is in really good shape with two years to go and what Charles will be figuring out is the route through for some of these European medallists to challenge again in 2012," he said.

"What he needed to do when he came into the job was challenge the culture. He had to take people out of their comfort zone and he has done that.

"It's now a team that is buzzing and they are on the move. It is still a long time to 2012 but there is real light at the end of the tunnel."

Sunday's results in full from European Athletics

Final medal table

Perri Shakes-Drayton

British women win relay bronze



see also
GB's Euro medal haul
01 Aug 10 |  Athletics
Van Commenee blasts relay teams
02 Aug 10 |  Athletics
Tomlinson wins long jump bronze
01 Aug 10 |  Athletics
Ennis crowned European champion
31 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Farah wins second European gold
31 Jul 10 |  Athletics
GB pair win hurdles gold & silver
31 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Lewis-Francis accepts relay blame
31 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Euro Athletics predictions
26 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Athletics on the BBC
21 Apr 11 |  Athletics


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