Photo by Mark Shearman in Holland
Four years after suffering injury heartache at the European Championships in Finland, Steph Twell landed bronze in Holland to seal her superb comeback from injury with a podium place.
And what a night it was for the Scottish endurance community with three athletes finishing in the top six in the Women’s 5000m as Laura Whittle took fifth place and Eilish McColgan finished sixth.
That performance surely adds further weight to Whittle’s claims for an Olympic place while McColgan has made her own remarkable return to form and fitness in 2016 after a desperate 12 months during 2015.
Twell took third in 15.20.70 and was close to the silver medal as Turkish athlete Yasemin Can – with 15.18.15 – made it two golds in a matter of days after also winning the 10,000m.
Steph, remember, travelled to Finland for the Euros in 2012 as she was asked to prove herself for London 2012 but wasn’t fit enough to compete and suffered the agony of missing out on the Olympics. Whittle was four seconds back in 15.24.18 and McColgan was at 15.28.53 after a race which was slow in the early stages.
‘It is fantastic, absolutely unreal,’ Steph told British Athletics in Holland.
‘I knew I had to go for any colour of medal and I just had to run right through to the line. It was so nerve-wracking going around, I was just thinking ‘is it going to be silver or bronze’. I wondered if I could stay with Can, but she dropped the pace so I just held onto my hat and that was the experience coming out.
‘You can doubt yourself sometimes and I have done that in the past, but now I have learnt how to cope with doubts, and my inner strength is showing. I wanted this – I have been part of the sport since a young age, so I’m super happy with that.’
Laura Whittle said: ‘Fifth at my first European Championships and I’ve run a massive PB in America this year, so I’m really pleased with my season. I’m just really enjoying my running, and coming into this I thought I was in quite good shape but you never really know.’
Eilish McColgan said: ‘I am really disappointed. Championships are so different so I am really glad I did this in preparation for Rio. It is so different from running a qualifying time. We were jogging, almost walking at one stage, then it picked up, but then it slowed again.
‘It was a good experience but I knew a medal was up for grabs today, so I am disappointed.’
Many congratulations to Steph, coach Mick Woods and her family and well done to all three athletes in Amsterdam on another fine demonstration of the power of Scottish endurance at the moment.
Jake Wightman took seventh place in the European Championships final in Amsterdam with a run of 3.47.68 in a race that was a real last lap burn-up.
Norwegian Filip Ingebritsen won it in 3.47.65 and Wightman’s GB and NI team-mate, Lee Emmanuel, took sixth place after being drafted in for the final following a DQ for another athlete in the heats.
Jake for his part had performed superbly on Thursday to come through and win his heat in fine style in a time of 3.39.32.
‘I thought I had got it right, but when 50 metres to go came and everyone started firing, I just thought I’d gone a bit too early,’ he said with regard to the final.
‘I gave it a go to try and win it, so it’s just annoying because I feel like had I waited a bit longer to kick with everyone else I may have had it. I’ll take it, but it’s just disappointing not to finish higher up but with the way I ran it. I can’t complain too much as I went for it.’
Well done to Edinburgh AC athlete Jake, his family and his coach on a good performance at his first international Champs as a Senior with GB and NI.
Lennie Waite missed out on a place in the Euro Champs final after clocking 9.48.46 in her 3000m steeplechase heat last Friday
The Scot actually finished 16th in the standings as 15 progressed and she was hampered on the day in Amsterdam by a fall at the water jump early in the race.
‘You can see at the start of the race, I went for a swim at the first water jump,’ said Lennie. I fell down but got back up again but there was already a 20m gap. When it happens on the first lap, maybe there is time to make it up but I just couldn’t get my heart rate down and the panic set in.
‘The sport is brutal – sometimes you experience the highs of it but today was just annoying. But I’m proud of myself for fighting.’
Mark Dry missed out in the hammer qualifying with a best throw of 71.96m. Later, he said: ‘It’s so frustrating – the conditions sucked but it was the same for everyone.
‘I didn’t think I threw that badly but I just didn’t have anything in the tank. You see what got through – 72m – so it is a disappointing result for me. These are the guys that are going to be in Rio. The body didn’t have it in the tank today, that’s not being negative, that is being realistic. ‘