Team captain Helen Clitheroe led by example with gold in the 3,000 metres as Britain ended the European Indoor Championships with eight medals, twice as many than in Turin two years ago.
That was some achievement given that Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis would have been hot favourite for pentathlon gold had she been injury-free, sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis would also have been contender for a 60m medal and world triple jump champion Phillips Idowu, and European sprint hurdle champion Andy Turner chose not to compete. Jenny Meadows won silver in the 800m and returned to the track an hour later to anchor the 4x400m relay team to another, while Dwain Chambers and the men’s 4x400m team also claimed silver on the final day of competition in Paris. But perhaps the most significant result came from 17-year-old sprinter Jodie Williams, who was just 0.01 seconds away from a medal in the 60m on her senior debut. At the other end of the age spectrum, the 37-year-old Clitheroe was delighted to claim her first major title after holding off a determined challenge from Russia’s Olesya Syreva to win by just three hundredths of a second. “It’s a dream come true for me,” Clitheroe said. “I’ve been trying so long to get on a podium and to win a gold medal at 37 is unbelievable. I’ve thought of giving up before.
“Especially in the last couple of years there’s been times when I’ve walked off the track, depressed, with my head down and you just think ‘What am I doing this for?’ It’s just because my husband Neil has kept believing in me. He said you’re a long time retired, don’t give up until you’re ready and do it on your terms so that’s what I’m doing. It’s just great to get a bit of payback for all of the hard work I’ve put in over the years.
“My dream is to run in the Olympics in London and this just makes me believe that I can get on the team.”
n Athletics: p29