By Zoran Milosavljevic
BELGRADE (Reuters) – Laura Muir led an impressive final day for Britain at the European indoor athletics championships with her second gold medal of the three-day event after winning the 3,000-meter race on Sunday.
The day’s action was also lit up by Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic, who delighted the home crowd by retaining the women’s long jump title with 7.24 meters, shattering her personal best by 17 centimeters. Only two women have jumped farther indoors, both in the 1980s – East German Heike Drechsler and Soviet Galina Chistyakova.
Muir, who clinched the 1,500m gold on Saturday, set a new championship record of 8:35.67 minutes and fellow Briton Eilish McCoglan finished third behind Turkey’s Kenyan-born Yasmine Can.
“I knew it would be a tough race with Can and that she would probably take the race to me and I just tried to hang on,” a delighted Muir told reporters.
“I pushed as hard as I could in the last 200 meters and was just relieved when I crossed the finish line.
“I am delighted to be part of the British team doing so well here.”
Asha Philip won the women’s 60 meters, Robbie Grabarz took the men’s high-jump silver behind Pole Sylvester Bednarek and Lorraine Ugen finished as the women’s long jump runner-up.
Shelayna Oskan-Clarke snatched the women’s 800 meters silver and Britain also finished as the women’s 4×400 relay runners-up behind Poland, who topped the overall medal standings with seven golds, one silver and four bronzes.
The British team finished second with five golds, four silvers and one bronze.
But for all of British and Polish exploits, Spanovic stole the show in Belgrade’s imposing Kombank Arena.
Having entered as the strong favorite, the 2016 outdoor European champion and Olympic bronze medalist showed some nerves in her first attempt as she faulted.
But the 26-year-old then took the lead with her second jump of 7.16m before her best leap of the series which drew a rousing ovation from a sellout 11,000 crowd.
“I never imagined it would be so emotional and I am so overjoyed it happened in front of my home fans,” Spanovic said in a trackside interview.
“Thank you so much for all the support,” she added after doing a lap of honor draped in a Serbian flag.
The impressive Poles also won the men’s 4×400 meter relay to draw the curtain on an entertaining competition, with the 2019 event taking place in Glasgow.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic, editing by Pritha Sarkar)