Ophelia Pye won Great Britain’s seventh gold medal of the championships in the women’s 400m hurdles final, the first track final of the last day.
Pye clattered into the penultimate barrier and she temporarily lost her balance but the 17-year-old took the crucial final hurdle much better to push past her teammate Stephanie Okoro and Belgium’s Zoe Laureys for the title in a championship record of 58.09.
“It was really tough, I'm not going to lie,” said Pye, who is coached by 1968 Olympic champion in the event David Hemery.
Pye was certainly one of the most unexpected gold medalists of the championships. She wasn’t ranked inside the top-10 on paper prior to Jerusalem nor had she ever broken the one minute-barrier in the event prior to last month.
“That last hurdle, I wasn't sure if I was going to fall over - I just about managed to hang in there. I just really, really wanted this - honestly. I had no hopes for the podium, and just wanted to make it to the finals - that was my goal coming here,” she said.
And an eighth gold medal for the Brits - and a seventh on the track - came in the medley relay (100m, 200m, 300m, 400m). A British team which included individual 200m winner Faith Akinbileje and anchored by Etty Sisson overcame a staunch challenge from reigning champions Italy to win gold in a European U18 best of 2:07.18.
Italy also ran faster than their previous European record with 2:07.35 while individual 400m silver medallist Lurdes Gloria Manuel ran a storming anchor leg to win bronze for Czech Republic in 2:07.53.
The Brits swept up the women’s track events at these championships, winning seven of the eight events at 1500m and below, including both relays. The sole non-track gold medal came courtesy of Cleo Agyepong in the shot put.
Aurstad storms to world U18 lead in the 400m hurdles
The way Bastian Elnan Aurstad attacked and ultimately won the men’s 400m hurdles was redolent of the way his fellow Norwegian Karsten Warholm likes to race.
Aurstad attacked the first 300 metres in scintillating fashion and even though he came under some pressure in the home straight, Aurstad’s technique held up over the gruelling ninth and tenth hurdles.
Aurstad, who cites Warholm as his idol, was rewarded with a world U20 leading time of 50.89 and what could be his first of many titles.
“Of course in a few years time, I would like to get a gold medal at senior level, but I just take it year after year. Motivational wise, I look into the future but I don't compare myself to Karsten,” said Aurstad who was also credited with a 45.78 anchor leg in the men's medley relay to take Norway up into silver.
The Irish had a torturous journey to reach Jerusalem due to travel delays but Fintan Dewhirst ensured the Emerald Isle would not be leaving the Givat Ram Stadium empty handed by winning their first medal of the championships with silver in a lifetime best of 51.65.
A second gold medal for Norway came shortly afterwards from a slightly less expected source. In a slow and tactical race which saw the pack jostle through the bell in 67.69, Malin Hoelsveen kicked away in the home straight for victory in 2:09.29.
The decibel levels reached their highest at the championships for the highly anticipated men’s 800m final featuring Noam Mamu, Israel’s biggest prospect for a medal at these championships.
In a similarly physical and tactical encounter to the women’s final, Mamu extricated himself from heavy traffic to set off in pursuit of Jakub Dudycha who made a decisive break with 200 metres.
Dudycha duly kicked to victory in 1:51.35 while Mamu, who was roared to the rafters at the Givat Ram Stadium, held off a late charge from Italy’s Davide De Rose to ensure silver - 1:51.35 to 1:51.79 - Israel’s first medal of not only the championships but in the nascent history of these championships.
In the decathlon, Amadeus Graber trailed France’s Alexander Montagne heading into the 1500m but the German defied an ankle injury he sustained in the javelin to move into gold medal position and set a championship record score of 7626 points.
Graber was never lower than fourth throughout the entire competition but he only moved into gold medal position for the first time courtesy of a battling 4:32.21 performance - the offending ankle heavily bandaged - in the 1500m.
In a super tight finish which saw the three medallists separated by only 35 points, Sweden’s Leo Goransson pipped Montagne for silver - 7609 to 7591 points - in a high quality competition which saw the first 10 athletes all set lifetime best totals.
Full results here.
More to follow...