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  Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 20:05 GMT 21:05 UK
Brits savour golden glow
Colin Jackson won his fourth European title in a row
Jackson won gold just moments after Hansen

In the space of three minutes on Saturday afternoon, Britain turned a golden hue in Munich.

As Colin Jackson stood behind his blocks, calming himself before the last major outdoor final he is likely to run, he glanced over to his left and watched Ashia Hansen leap to the European title.

A few moments later, Jackson was diving through the line to claim his own gold.

Across the infield, in front of a rammed grandstand, his team-mate Hansen jumped in the air delightedly and ran down the back straight, whirling the Union flag around her head.


Ashia's jump put a huge smile on my face
Colin Jackson

For Jackson, the day after Steve Backley had beaten him to the honour of being the first British athlete to win four consecutive European titles, there were all the little touches you have come to expect after 18 years of watching him take medals.

As ever, he bolted from the blocks like a greyhound from the traps, clocking a reaction time that was so close to perfect it was virtually in bed with it.

As ever, his technique was smoother than a sprinter's shaved leg, sending him whistling over each hurdle with hips rising no more than was absolutely necessary.

As ever, he dipped in such exaggerated fashion at the finish that he went clean under the measuring beam, almost tickling the track with the tip of his nose.

Ashia Hansen's winning leap started the gold rush
Hansen's winning leap started the gold rush
Like Backley, Jackson now has enough European medals to open a small museum. Like Backley, he would probably swap one of the four for an Olympic gold.

But after the disappointment of only taking silver at the Commonwealths last week, this was a sweet moment indeed.

"I'm so pleased - this was absolutely fantastic," he said afterwards.

"It's amazing. When I won in Split (in 1990) I was under a lot of stress and strain. Here I was a lot more confident in what I'd done in my career.

"I know I've trained very well, and at the back of my mind I knew I was going to make it. Not able to run fast in Manchester stirred me on.

"I was on the line when they showed Ashia's distance on the scoreboard and I thought 'That's a massive jump'. It put a huge smile on my face."

Hansen may not have the weight of medals that Jackson can boast, but her performance, set free of the historical perspective, was if anything more impressive than that of her team-mate.


I couldn't believe it when I saw that I had just jumped 15m - I was so excited I started to cry
Ashia Hansen
No-one expected Heli Koivula to go 50 centimetres beyond her personal best, and when Hansen nailed a huge jump in the penultimate round only to see it red-flagged, the title looked to be gone.

But, exactly as she did in the Commonwealths, and exactly as Backley had done on Friday, she found something special at the very death.

"Heli put the pressure on and all I was doing was making no-jumps because I was making so many mistakes," said Hansen.

"I knew a big jump was there, and it gave me confidence knowing that I had done it in Manchester.

"But I couldn't believe it when I saw that I had just jumped 15m. I was so excited I started to cry."

It was just what the British team needed too. After a couple of disappointments in Munich, they needed a lift ahead of the final day of competition.

In the time it has taken you to read this feature, Jackson and Hansen did exactly that.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
110m hurdle champion Colin Jackson
"I'm very pleased"
Triple jump winner Ashia Hansen
"All I was doing was making mistakes"

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Our Man in Munich

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