By Mike Rowbottom at the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich

Sandra Perkovic of Croatia celebrates after winning a third European discus gold ©AFP/Getty ImagesCroatia's world and Olympic discus champion Sandra Perkovic had a packed and appreciative crowd all to herself here as she rounded off the action on day five of the European Championships, claiming a third European gold with a national record of 71.08 metres - the furtherest throw in the world since 1992.


Perkovic thus completed a hat-trick of European title hat-tricks on the day, following the achievements of pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie and triple jumper Olha Saladuha.

Lavillenie exerts a similar dominance to Perkovic on his event, and he required just two first-time clearances to secure his third consecutive European gold - and his 20th consecutive victory.

France's 27-year-old Olympic and world champion, who broke Sergey Bubka's 21-year-old world record with a clearance of 6.16m in February, delayed his arrival in the final until 5.65m and did not return until all his opponents had made an exit, with just three men successful at 5.70m.

Lavillenie was gambling on his ability to clear the next height after the one which did for the rest of the field, and the gamble paid off as he soared over 5.80m before doing a celebratory back somersault in the pit.

He went on to clear 5.90m, but could not quite manage to get the Championship record of 6.01m.

Renaud Lavillenie celebrates a third consecutive European pole vault victory - achieved with just two clearances ©AFP/Getty ImagesRenaud Lavillenie celebrates a third consecutive European pole vault victory - achieved with just two clearances ©AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian Saladuha secured her latest European gold with a second round effort of 14.73m, with Russia's Yekaterina Koneva taking silver with 14.69m and Irina Gumenyuk of Russia taking bronze with 14.46m.

Meraf Bahta earned Sweden's first gold of these Championships as she held off the apparently irresistible challenge of Sifan Hassan for the length of the home straight, finishing an agonised stride ahead of her  to claim the 5,000 metres gold in 15min 31.39sec, with the Dutch runner recording 15:31.79.

Bahta and Hassan, all but side-by-side in the final stages, have close parallels off the track.

Each arrived in the country they now represent in 2008, as refugees - Bahta from Eritrea, Hassan from Ethiopia - and each became eligible to represent  their adopted country this year.

After Hassan, who won 1500m gold earlier in the week, had moved from fifth to second round the final bend before moving out to challenge he leader, she seemed set for a golden double.

But her leggier opponent simply refused to go along with such a scenario.

Hassan's team-mate Susan Kuijken took bronze in 15:32.82.

Sweden's Meraf Bahta celebrates as she crosses the finish next to Sifan Hassan of The Netherlands to win gold in the 5,000 metres ©Getty ImagesSweden's Meraf Bahta celebrates as she crosses the finish next to Sifan Hassan of The Netherlands to win gold in the 5,000 metres ©Getty Images

Lynsey Sharp of Britain has not done a thing wrong at these Championships, but the defending champion had no answer to the finishing speed of Belarus athlete Maryna Arzamazova, who took gold in 1:58.15, the fastest in Europe this year.

Sharp's compensation was a time of 1:58.80, well inside last month's personal best of 1:59.67.

Poland's Joanna Jozwik also clocked a personal best, 1:59.63, to take bronze.

Sharp's fellow Scot Eilidh Child, like her a Commonwealth silver medallist, went one better here as she hung onto her lead down the straight despite heavy pressure from Anna Titimets to take 400m hurdles gold in 54.48sec.

Ukraine's World Student Games champion took silver in a personal best of 54.56,with Russia's Irina Davydova beating the Czech Republic's Denisa Rosolova to bronze in 54.60.

Olympic champion Krisztian Pars defended his hammer title emphatically with a final effort of 82.69m, est in the world this year.

The Netherlands men's 4x400 relay team ran alone on the track in a virtually empty Stadium, two hours after the day's competition had ended, in a vain effort to qualify for tomorrow's final.

The Dutch were left fumbling on the floor for their baton in heat one after being impeded by Ukraine, who were disqualified.

The Jury of Appeal accepted a Dutch protest and allowed them to run again, which they did with the target of bettering the time of 3:04.07 by the slowest of the qualifiers, the Czech Republic.

Despite the noise and encouragement from team members and officials still in the stadium, they could only manage 3:05.93 - slower than their first effort of 3:04.72.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]games.biz


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