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Page last updated at 17:59 GMT, Monday, 9 August 2010 18:59 UK

Hannah Miley storms to European Championships gold

European Swimming Championships 2010
Venue: Budapest Dates: 4-15 August
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website (UK users only); listen on BBC 5 live sports extra, updates on BBC Radio 5 live Full details

Hannah Miley

Miley takes gold for GB in 400m medley

Britain's Hannah Miley powered to a commanding gold in the 400m individual medley as swimming's European Championships began in Budapest.

And GB's women won 4x100m freestyle relay silver later on Monday.

Scottish star Miley, 21, trailed home favourite Katinka Hosszu early but caught the world champion to win in a time of four minutes 33.09 seconds.

"I probably put more pressure on myself for London 2012 but I'm here to race and that's what I did," said Miley.

"The target on my back is massive now. I've got everyone hunting me down.

"I was here in 2006 at the Europeans, didn't do that well and failed to make the cut for the Worlds. That was the first real kick up the backside I needed to make sure it never happened again."

Hannah Miley lifting European gold in Hungary
Some days my backstroke is pants and my younger brother beats me - he's only 15 and he's shorter

Hannah Miley

Miley, who turned 21 on Sunday, finished fourth behind Hosszu at last year's World Championships in Rome.

She had to combat the noise of the Hungarian's home crowd to win by three seconds, but credited her father Patrick, who is also her coach, for the improvement that brought her first major long-course gold.

"I had my music in as loud as I could but I've also been working on mental techniques, getting tips and tools to make myself more positive," she added.

"And the work I've done with my dad, too - I felt more confident knowing I was a senior athlete going into it. I hope I've done my dad proud."

BBC Sport pundit and former freestyle world champion Karen Pickering said victory for Miley was surprising as much for its location as its comprehensive nature.

"Hannah has been on the brink of doing that for a while," said Pickering.

"What surprised me most is she beat a Hungarian in Hungary. If you're going to make it tougher for yourself, that's one way of doing it.

"But she's been so close to doing something special for two to three years now. It's good to see her break through."

Miley told BBC Sport improvements to her backstroke had been the key to winning gold.

Hannah Miley

Miley hopes dad is proud of gold

"Backstroke is the one stroke I've really worked on," she said. "Some days it's great, some days it's pants and my younger brother Alistair beats me - he's only 15 and he's shorter than me.

"I've always worked on the theory you should work on what you're weakest at and it's really picked up. Today it just clicked and I didn't expect to be that quick."

In the penultimate event of the day, the relay team of Amy Smith, Fran Halsall, Jessica Sylvester and Jo Jackson added silver to Britain's medal tally.

Sweden and Britain entered the last leg separated by two hundredths of a second.

Jackson, racing the final leg, was overhauled by a late charge from the victorious Germans but held on to edge Sweden into third place.

"I was only drafted in at the last minute but I just wanted to do as well as I could for the team and that was a great result," said Jackson.

"It's a talented quartet and to grab the silver at the end was just what the girls deserved."

Pickering added: "Jo Jackson is very tough and gutsy at end of races. By putting her in that [anchor] position, the team can say, 'We've done our bit, what can you do?' - and that worked.

Britain's Fran Halsall & Jessica Sylvester

GB women win silver in 4x100m relay

"She's that kind of girl, she's not going to roll over. If you put her in middle then I'm not saying she wouldn't try as hard, but she would've been sheltered."

British swimmers have suggested they are not as well prepared for these championships as they would like, since they, unlike other European stars, are focusing on October's Commonwealth Games.

And that appeared to affect Britain's reigning world champion Liam Tancock, who was fortunate to make the final of the men's 100m backstroke.

Tancock finished his semi-final in fourth place, leaving him ninth overall and one place outside qualification, before a withdrawal moved him up into the last of the final places.

Robbie Renwick, the first Briton in action at the championships, could only finish sixth in a men's 400m freestyle final dominated by French teenager Yannick Agnel, who stunned world champion Paul Biedermann to win in a time of 3:46.17, 0.13 seconds ahead of the German.


However, Agnel tasted an equally surprising defeat in the men's 4x100m freestyle relay, where Daniil Izotov swam the fastest leg of the race to hand his Russian team gold, leaving Agnel to pick up silver for France alongside Fabien Gilot, William Meynard and Alain Bernard. Britain's men finished last.

In Monday's semi-finals, Lizzie Simmonds and Gemma Spofforth reached the final of the women's 200m backstroke with ease, qualifying as second and third fastest respectively. They race for gold on Tuesday.

But Kris Gilchrist finished 12th in qualification for the men's 100m breaststroke and will miss the final.

These European Championships mark the first major event featuring British swimmers since the ban on ultra-fast bodysuits, which became near-ubiquitous after the 2008 Beijing Olympics but have been illegal since January 2010.

Despite the underperformance of the GB men on day one, Pickering believes the opening day's action bodes well for British chances in the week ahead.

"As a whole package, the British team did better than I expected," she saidt.

"They were well above average - there were a couple of swimmers who weren't great but there were more who were impressive.

"We can't look at times, we can only look at races against who's there, and GB were impressive.

"The French stood out as the most successful nation, they're absolutely flying, but the Brits are up there in terms of how many they were getting through to finals and semi-finals."

As well as Simmonds and Spofforth in the 200m backstroke final, Tuesday offers a first glimpse of teenager Achieng Ajulu-Bushell swimming competitively for Britain.

The 16-year-old, born in Warrington, swam for Kenya at last year's World Championships but has since switched her national allegiance to her country of birth in the run-up to 2012.

She will compete in the fourth of six women's 100m breaststroke heats early on Tuesday, and is expected to reach the semi-finals later that day.

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see also
Euro Champs day-by-day guide
11 Aug 10 |  Swimming
GB swimmers play down Euro hopes
07 Aug 10 |  Swimming
Scots name Commonwealth swimmers
01 Aug 10 |  Swimming
Miley adds two more Glasgow golds
28 Jun 10 |  Swimming
Swimming & Diving on the BBC
29 Jun 11 |  Swimming

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