Germany finished top of the medal table at the Munich 2022 European Athletics Championships, part of the wider multi-sport European Championships, as their women’s 4x100m team won the last event, bringing the German total of gold to seven – one more than Britain, who failed to get the baton round in what was effectively a sprint shoot-out for the overall bragging rights after Julian Weber had just won the javelin title.
Third-leg runner Gina Luckenkemper, winner of the individual title by five thousandths of a second on a tumultuous Tuesday night was the idol again as she supercharged the German effort before passing on a lead that Rebekka Haase maintained despite heavy pressure from Poland’s Ewa Swoboda to earn victory in 42.34.
Poland took silver in a national record of 42.61, with bronze going to Italy in 43.03, by a difference of six thousandths of a second over the Netherlands.
By the time Luckenkemper got underway in lane three, the British and French challenge in her two left hand lanes had disappeared as both failed to negotiate the first exchange.
Great Britain had been brought level with Germany on six golds in the preceding track race - the men’s 4x100m relay team. The favourites lived up to their potential as they secured gold in a championship record of 37.67 ahead of France, who clocked 37.94, and Poland, who ran a national record of 38.15.
Fifth-placed Switzerland also set a national record, finishing in 38.36.
After taking the baton from lead runner Jeremiah Azu, European 200m champion Zharnel Hughes ran a lightning leg to give a big advantage to Jona Efoloko, who handed over to anchor leg runner Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, and the individual silver medallist brought the baton home with huge efficiency.
As it turned out, this was the closest France got to a gold at these Championships, in which they have not failed to win at least once since 1982. Not an ideal marker two years out from the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Garcia holds off Wightman in a battle of the global champions
Spain’s Mariano Garcia added European 800m gold to his world indoor title as he held off an intense challenge down the home straight from Britain’s world 1500m champion Jake Wightman to win in a personal best 1:44.85.
Wightman, eager to show his 800m credentials in Munich, was operating at maximum power in the closing stages, but arguably paid the price for having to come round the outside after getting boxed in around the final bend.
By that time the Spaniard who mimes kick-starting a motorcycle before every race was on his bike and away for his second title of the season. Wightman completed his medal set for the season after world 1500m gold and Commonwealth 1500m bronze with silver in a season’s best of 1:44.91.
Ireland’s Mark English replicated his performance in 2014 as he took bronze in 1:45.19 ahead of Sweden’s Andreas Kramer, who clocked 1:45.38.
“I am very pleased with gold,” said Garcia. “I was expecting a much slower race, but it wasn't so, I just went with it, and decided to control it from the start. When I decided to take the lead, I knew I had to give it my all, because towards the end of the race, that's when you have less energy, so I need to get this right.”
Wightman commented: “I was very close to the gold and I would be very glad to get that but still I am pretty happy with the silver. I was not quite close enough in the last straight and it is tough when you are not that close with strong opponents. I did not manage to stay strong enough to pass Garcia. This is a tough race with a lots of tactics.”
Less than 40 minutes after leading off Poland’s silver medal-winning team in the 4x100m, Poland’s Pia Skrzyszowska clocked a swift 12.53 to win a 100m hurdles, the fastest winning time at the championships since Bulgaria's Yordanka Donkova in Stuttgart 1986, where Great Britain’s European leader Cindy Sember, fastest qualifier in 12.62, came to grief over the second hurdle and finished last.
There were no such misjudgements from the Pole - the second fastest qualifier behind Sember in 12.66 - who started well and was fluid over the hurdles to finish well clear of Hungary’s Luka Kozak, who equalled the national record of 12.69 she had set in the semifinals.
Bronze went to Switzerland’s Ditaji Kambundji, whose older sister Mujinga has won 100m silver and 200m gold at these championships, as she finished in 12.74, 0.01 ahead of two-time European indoor champion Nadine Visser of the Netherlands.
A sedate men’s 10,000m final, in which the field reached the hallway point in 13:54.20 finished with a dramatic chase around the final bend as Italy’s Yemaneberhan Crippa caught the man who had established a 15 metres lead with two laps remaining - Norway’s Zerei Kbrom - and extended it to 15 metres at the bell.
Crippa, who won bronze in this event four years ago and had finished third in the 5000m earlier in the week won in 27.46.13, with a weary Kbrom making it to the line for silver in a personal best of 27:46.94 just ahead of the jubilant, fast-finishing Yann Schrub, who claimed bronze in a personal best of 27:47.13 after moving clear of teammate Jimmy Gressier, who was fourth in 27:49.84.
Crippa commented: “Compared to four years ago, in Berlin 2018, I feel I have changed a lot - especially my mindset, I am much stronger mentally than I was in the past. I ran that last lap thinking that I had to look out for Jimmy Gressier - I knew he was the one I had to look out for. Although he was the big favourite to win this race, it looks like tonight it was my night, and not Gressier's night.”
Full results here.