Maryna Arzamasova of Belarus wins the 2014 European Championships 800m title over Lynsey Sharp of Great Britain (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
ARZAMASOVA TOPS SHARP IN EURO CHAMPIONSHIPS 800M
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with persmission.
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 le
ading 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.
“You know, I’m glad I gave it a go,” she said.
PHOTO: Maryna Arzamasova of Belarus wins the 20
14 European Championships 800m title over Lynsey Sharp of Great Britain (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)