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Ireland scupper Bol's bid for triple Euro gold

Team Ireland celebrates winning the European 4x400m mixed relay final (Andreas SOLARO)
Team Ireland celebrates winning the European 4x400m mixed relay final (Andreas SOLARO)

An inspired Irish quartet led by Rhasidat Adeleke outstripped Femke Bol's favoured Dutch team to snatch gold in a thrilling 4x400m mixed relay at the European championships on Friday.

The Irish four, also featuring Christopher O'Donnell, Thomas Barr and Sharlene Mawdsley, clocked a championship record of 3min 09.92sec, just ahead of silver medal winners Italy, in a show of Olympic intent just 49 days out from the Paris Games.

It was Ireland's first European gold medal in 26 years, since Sonia O'Sullivan's 5-10,000m double in Budapest.

"We surprised a lot of people here and we definitely surprised ourselves," said Irish third leg Barr.

"But we also had a great confidence that if there is a right day, there is no reason why we could not come home with a medal."

After the World Relays in the Bahamas, Barr said, when Ireland took bronze behind the USA and Netherlands, "I was secretly confident that we could come home with the gold.

"And that is exactly what we did, championship record, we all delivered our own individual performances, we all performed together really well as a team and trusted each other to do what we needed to do and we come home with that gold medal which we do not often do in Ireland."

Bol, looking to repeat her triple gold showing from the last Euros in Munich in 2022, was left with too much to do on the anchor leg, albeit doing exceptionally well to make up a full 30 metres in a last-lap 49.21sec to snatch bronze.

"I did not run for myself, but I ran for my country," said Bol.

Bol will now turn her attention to her speciality, the 400m hurdles -- in which she is world champion, and then the women's 4x400m relay.

"I did not try to save energy for the next races, you simply cannot do that when you run a relay," the Dutchwoman said.

Slovenia's Kristjan Ceh, who was 2022 world champion and won silver behind Sweden's Daniel Stahl in Budapest last year, managed a best of 68.08m to win the men's discus.

Austrian Lukas Weisshaidinger claimed silver with 67.70m, with Lithuania’s defending European champion and recently-crowned world record holder Mykolas Alekna taking bronze (67.48).

Stahl, also the reigning Olympic champion, finished fourth with a best of 66.84m.

Stahl's girlfriend, teammate Fanny Roos, fared marginally less well in the shot put final, finishing sixth in a competition won by Jessica Schilder (18.77m) in a Dutch 1-2 with Jorinde Can Klinken.

- Palmisano, Battocletti delight Italy -

The first gold of the championships that run until June 12 went to Italy's reigning Olympic champion Antonella Palmisano, who led a home 1-2 in winning the 20km race walk in 1hr 28min 09sec.

Valentina Trapletti claimed silver in 1:28.37, but there was drama for bronze as Spain's Laura Garcia-Caro started to celebrate what she thought was third place before being edged at the line by Ukraine's Lyudmila Olyanovska in a photo finish.

"Winning in Rome was a dream, now I want do my best to win again at the Olympics, in Paris," said Palmisano.

And the last of the five golds on offer on Friday also went to an Italian, Nadia Battocletti claiming victory in the women's 5,000m in a championship record of 14:35.29, more than 3sec ahead of Norway's Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal in second.

Spain's Marta Garcia claimed bronze in a national record of 14:44.04.

Belgium's Nafi Thiam, a two-time Olympic champion as well as defending double European gold medallist and a two-time world title holder, was in control of the heptathlon after the opening day's four events.

She clocked 13.74sec in the 100m hurdles, managed a best of 1.95m in the high jump and 15.06m in the shot put before timing 24.81sec in the 200m.

That left her on 3,955 points overnight, 35 ahead of teammate Noor Vidts, with the long jump, javelin and 800m to come on Saturday.

Britain's world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson, seeking to win her first European title after silver in Berlin in 2018, withdrew from competition after the shot put with a leg injury.

Coach Aston Moore said that they had preferred to err on the side of caution with the Olympics so close.

"Kat has developed a small niggle in her right leg, and in light of the proximity of the Olympic Games we have chosen to bank what we have learned from this first day of competition and withdraw from the heptathlon," he said.

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