BERLIN (Reuters) – Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith conclusively ended the reign of Dafne Schippers as Europe’s sprint queen when she raced to victory in the 200 metres in the Olympic Stadium on Saturday to complete a magnificent European Championships double.
After consigning Schippers to bronze when winning the 100 metres easily on Tuesday, Britain’s Asher-Smith offered an even more telling blow in the Dutchwoman’s best event as she sped to victory in 21.89 seconds, the world’s fastest time this year.
Silver medallist Schippers, twice a world champion over the half-lap, ran her fastest race of the summer but was still beaten by the huge margin of a quarter of a second in 22.14 seconds.
By successfully defending her 200m crown, the 22-year-old Asher-Smith joined some of the great names who have achieved the 100/200m European double at the same championships, like Schippers herself (2014) as well as Poland’s Irena Szewinska (1974) and the ‘flying Dutchwoman’ Fanny Blankers-Koen (1950).
The history graduate made a slice of her own in quite dazzling fashion, racing out over the first 50 metres to leave Schippers trailing and then maintaining the gap over the last 75 metres where the Dutchwoman would normally thrive.
Poland’s Adam Kszczot became the first man ever to win a hat-trick of 800m titles when he raced to another stunning victory, tracking down France’s world champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse on the crown of the final bend and sprinting away to win as he liked in 1 minute 44.59 seconds.
Bosse faded on the home straight and had to settle for bronze, with Andreas Kramer coming through to equal his Swedish record and take silver in 1:45.03.
Kszczot’s Polish team mate Justyna Swiety-Ersetic won the women’s 400m in 50.41 seconds but there was heartbreak for Greece’s Maria Belibasaki, the runaway leader who gave everything, broke her national record but, with legs turning to jelly, tumbled over the line 0.04sec adrift.
In the morning, Spain had celebrated a double triumph as Alvaro Martin and Maria Perez struck gold in the 20km walk races at the European Championships on Saturday.
The pair won their titles after a trying morning for organisers when investigation of a suspected gas leak forced them to delay the start of the women’s race on the city centre course by nearly two hours.
They then had to face the logistical headache of staging both races at the same time on a tight circuit but the congested joint race passed off without problem as a large, enthusiastic crowd cheered the Spanish success.
Martin, a 24-year-old from Llerena, enjoyed the first major title of his career, making his move to victory on the penultimate of the 20 one-kilometre loops and ensuring a Spanish one-two with Diego Garcia Carrera finishing runner-up.
Martin clocked a season’s best one hour 20 minutes 42 seconds, six seconds clear of Garcia Carrera, while Vasiliy Mizinov won the bronze two seconds further back.
In the continued absence of a Russian team because of the IAAF-imposed doping ban on the national federation, Mizinov was one of the Russians cleared by their doping review board to compete as an Authorised Neutral Athlete.
Like Martin, who took off his cap and waved to the crowd before the end, the diminutive 22-year-old Perez won with enough to spare to ensure the last of her 20 circuits was effectively a lap of honour.
Yet her victory was even more emphatic as she won the women’s race by nearly half a minute in a championship best 1:26:36.
Perez, a silver medallist in the European Under-23 championships only last year, graduated to her first senior international title after hauling back a break from Czech Anezka Drahotova.
She then forged away herself mid-race with Drahotova taking the silver in 1:27:03, while Antonella Palmisano, of Italy, won the bronze in 1:27:30.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar)