Judd arrives in style for Britain, but Germany and Russia lead in European Team Championships
Saturday, 22 June 2013
June 22 - Jessica Judd, an 18-year-old from Canvey Island, ended a week in which she had finished her A levels with an astonishing 800 metres victory for Britain in the European Team Championships at a blustery Gateshead.
Judd earned maximum points on her full international debut to restore some of the host nation's confidence after earlier defeats for world 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene, who was beaten by Germany's Silvio Schirrmeister, and European Indoor pole vault champion Holly Bleasdale, who failed to record a height and later revealed she was suffering from an Achilles tendon problem.
"I can actually celebrate now," said Judd.
"My leavers' ball was on Friday so I couldn't go.
"A lot of people go on about juniors not being able to progress to senior level. I gave it my all and am so happy."
The world junior bronze medallist's performance in holding off Russia's Ekaterina Sharmina to win in 2min 0.82sec – and the later 5,000m victory by double Olympic champion Mo Farah - helped Britain finish the first of the two days' competition in third place, on 181 points, behind Russia, on 194 points, and leaders Germany, who have 195.
Farah secured his win with an astonishing last lap of 50.89, explaining afterwards that his Oregon-based coach, Alberto Salazar, had insisted he leave his sprint as late as possible.
Team captain Perri Shakes-Drayton also rose to the challenge with a 400m win in a personal best of 50.50, the fastest in Europe this year, while Eilidh Child's win in the 400m hurdles also augured well for Britain's hopes at this summer's International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Moscow.
Britain's last win in this event came in 2008, when it was in its previous incarnation as the European Cup.
Germany, winners of the first European Team Championships in 2009, will hope to remain at least one point ahead of the nation which won in the two following years - the event was not held in the 2012 Olympic year - and their narrow overnight lead was made possible by victories from Schirrmeister, world shot put champion David Storl, who defeated Poland's Olympic gold medallist Tomas Majewski, and javelin thrower Christina Obergfoll.
Obergfoll and Greene had entered these Championships as the only athletes to have won their event on each of the previous three runnings of it, and that distinction now remains solely the property of the German after she produced the furthest distance of the day - 63.64 metres.
World champion Mariya Abakumova, finished back in fourth with 57.09m, which meant 12 points for Germany and only eight for Russia.
"It wasn't the best competition for me, but I kept my head throughout all of it and my best throw came in the last round," Obergfoll said.
"It was really tough conditions and there was a huge headwind, so that was difficult to deal with.
"I cannot believe how great the crowd was."
Many in the capacity crowd will have come to see their home Olympic champions in action.
While Farah won easily, the long jump gold medallist from London 2012, Greg Rutherford, had to settle for third place with 8.02m in a competition won Russia's Alexander Menkov with 8.36m.
June 2011: Gateshead to host 2013 European Team Championships