By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
ZURICH (16-Aug) – The women’s 800m final at the 21st European Championships here turned into a two-way race between Britain’s Lynsey Sharp and Belarus’s Maryna Arzamasova. Sharp, feeling strong after her Commonwealth Games silver medal in the same discipline last month, ran aggressively from the gun. The Scotswoman hit the 400-meter mark in a snappy 58.26, and Arzamasova was right on her heels.
“I was feeling so confident after Glasgow, really strong,” Sharp told reporters under the Stadion Letzigrund. “I knew I had a fast race in me. Everyone said I looked amazing in the semis, so I went out and did exactly what I did then.”
With the rest of the field well behind them, Sharp was still leading Arzamasova, the bronze medalist from these championships two years ago, through 600 meters (1:27.51). Sharp was now fully committed, but the fast first lap was starting to take its toll. She began to get worried.
“Perhaps I shouldn’t have looked behind me with 120 to go,” she said. “That’s the most uncomfortable way to race a race, running scared.”
Coming out of the final bend, Arzamasova came around Sharp on the outside. She said she wasn’t thinking about her opponent, but rather just running as fast as possible to the finish.
“I just run and finish as fast as I can,” she told Race Results Weekly in English. “I’m not thinking about someone, other athletes. Just about me.”
Down the homestretch, Arzamasova opened her lead over Sharp, and ran through the line to clock a European-leading 1:58.15, a personal best by more than a second. Sharp crossed next in 1:58.80, also a personal best. Arzamasova earned the second gold medal of these championships for Belarus.
“It is the second gold medal in our country,” she said. “It’s very good, and I’m proud of my country. I love my country, my people, my home, my family.”
Behind the two key protagonists, Britain’s Jessica Judd was leading the chase group down the backstretch. But the 19 year-old IAAF World Junior Championships silver medalist from 2012 was hurting.
“I gave it my all; I couldn’t have done any more,” Judd said after the race.
While she would eventually fade to seventh place, the woman who was in last place at the 400-meter mark was making a bid for a medal. Poland’s Joanna Jozwik ran past the rest of the field and, like her compatriot Artur Kuciapski in the men’s 800m, was the surprise medalist in this discipline at these championships. She clocked a personal best 1:59.63, her firs sub-two-minute mark.
“My dream was to run under two minutes and the medal is unbelievable,” she told European Athletics interviewers.
In the women’s 5000m final, Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan came close –but fell short– in her quest to win her second gold medal of these championships after already winning the 1500m. In a slow, tactical race –where the middle laps were only slightly faster than 80 seconds, Hassan stayed in the back, and let Sweden’s Merah Bahta, her key rival, set the pace after 3000 meters. It all came down to the last lap, where Bahta took the bell, and scooted around the track in 61.8 seconds, simply too fast for Hassan.
“It was very, very easy for me,” Bahta told Race Results Weekly of her final circuit. “The same as in training. Very, very easy.”
Bahta was given a time of 15:31.39 to Hassan’s 15:31.79. The Dutchwoman said she was OK with winning silver.
“I’m very happy,” she told a clutch of reporters, speaking English. She continued: “She’s strong, because I know her.”
Third place went to another Dutchwoman, the former Florida State Seminole Susan Kuijken, who got third place on a dip over Russia’s Yelena Korobkina, 15:32.82 to 15:32.89. Kuijken, who is still mourning the death of her junior coach two weeks ago, said that working with Australian coach Nic Bideau had had given her a lot of confidence, even though she was a little short on training.
“It’s given me a lot of confidence going into races,” Kuijken said. “I don’t panic when I have to do races at this level.”
Britain’s Jo Pavey, who doubled back after winning the 10,000m on Tuesday, finished seventh after contending over the last three laps. She said she had no regrets.
Results – 800
1 ARZAMASOVA Maryna BLR 17 DEC 1987 5 1:58.15 EL
2 SHARP Lynsey GBR 11 JUL 1990 6 1:58.80 PB
3 JÓZWIK Joanna POL 30 JAN 1991 8 1:59.63 PB
4 POISTOGOVA Yekaterina RUS 1 MAR 1991 3 1:59.69
5 ROGOZINA Svetlana RUS 26 DEC 1992 4 2:00.76
6 STAMBOLOVA Vania BUL 28 NOV 1983 1 2:00.91 PB
7 JUDD Jessica GBR 7 JAN 1995 7 2:01.65
8 LAVRIC Mirela ROU 17 FEB 1991 2 2:09.25
Intermediate times: 400m 58.26 SHARP Lynsey (GBR)
600m 1:27.51 SHARP Lynsey (GBR)
Results – 5000
1 BAHTA Meraf SWE 24 JUN 1989 5 15:31.39
2 HASSAN Sifan NED 1 JAN 1993 9 15:31.79
3 KUIJKEN Susan NED 8 JUL 1986 2 15:32.82
4 KOROBKINA Yelena RUS 25 NOV 1990 16 15:32.89
5 FERNÁNDEZ Nuria ESP 16 AUG 1976 11 15:35.59
6 MOREIRA Sara POR 17 OCT 1985 14 15:38.13
7 PAVEY Jo GBR 20 SEP 1973 7 15:38.41
8 VIOLA Giulia ITA 24 APR 1991 10 15:38.76 PB
9 GORECKA Emelia GBR 29 JAN 1994 1 15:42.98
10 BULUT Gamze TUR 3 AUG 1992 12 15:44.73
11 WENTH Jennifer AUT 24 JUL 1991 6 15:47.61
12 PLIS Renata POL 5 FEB 1985 8 15:48.58
13 GRØVDAL Karoline Bjerkeli NOR 14 JUN 1990 4 15:52.78
14 MÄKI Kristiina CZE 22 SEP 1991 15 15:57.13
15 KOCK Maren GER 22 JUN 1990 3 16:04.60
16 GONZÁLEZ Paula ESP 2 MAY 1985 17 16:24.58
ROMAN Sonja SLO 11 MAR 1979 13 DNF
Intermediate times: 1000m 3:08.02 MOREIRA Sara (POR)
2000m 6:25.46 MOREIRA Sara (POR)
3000m 9:40.24 PLIS Renata (POL)
4000m 12:47.07 BAHTA Meraf (SWE)