Russia DQ Grants Gold To Britain
Aug 15, 2010 - Craig Lord
European Championships, Budapest, day 7 finals:
Women 4x100m medley
Britain retained the crown in 3:59.72 after the Russian's a hand ahead (3:59.39) suffered a DQ. Silver went to Sweden in 4:01.18, and Germany was elevated to bronze on 4:03.22.
The Brits set out to defend a crown won in 2006 and 2008 but a touch below best in a boiling battle against a growing Russian force on their main quest if the years, it looked like gold was slipping away. World champion Gemma Spofforth gave the British squad a great start over Maria Gromova, before Kate Haywood held off to half-way the woman who beat her for gold in the 50m breaststroke. Efimova caught up fast. A touch too fast it turned out: the 50m and 100m breaststroke champion had jumped the gun by 0.12sec.
Fran Halsall held her place, with Irina Bespalova firing for all she was worth, British debutante Amy Smith up next for the defenders and able to catch Margarita Nesterova in the nail-biting, closing 5 metres. Smith got her hand to the wall 0.3sec shy. The scoreboard froze for almost as long as the race had lasted. Then the verdict: 3:59.72 - gold for Britain, DQ next to the Russian result.
Spofforth said that it was great to get gold but that she felt "a little disappointed that we didn't take it in our own right". A DQ is legitimate but Spofforth noted that it would have been cleaner if her squad had stopped the clock first, adding "it sucks for them too". Not quite getting the perfect gold would be "motivation to get it right the next time at Commonwealths," she added.
Halsall, with a record five medals to her credit, more than any other British swimmer has ever won at one championship, described her personal success as "amazing ... I don't know what to say about it really". But she had kind words for those in the shadows who had take her and her teammates to the title: "The girls this morning [Elizabeth Simmonds, Stacey Tadd, Jemma Lowe and Smith] did us proud and set it up for us to do the job. We gave it as much as we could out there and having them in there this morning meant I could be in shape for finals. We've got such depth that we can do that these days." A second reason for delight: her parents had managed to be there to watch her win her weekend medals.
Effect on race on all-time top 10:
From the archive: At a time when Australia, the US and China are the teams to beat in the 4x100m medley, history offers a glimpse of early European dominance: the first 13 world records ever held in the event, after the birth of butterfly made it all possible from 1953, went to Europeans. Three Hungarian quartets in 1953 and 1954 were followed by teams from France and Holland, twice, followed on before Hungary, Britain and four other national Dutch quartets. Three years before the US joined the club in 1959, one Dutch club team - de Nijs, Kroon, Voorbij and Kraan of De Robben SC - also held the mark. Their coach Jan Stender celebrated a unique achievement of having coached eight world records holders who all lived in the same street in Hilversum. It was Stender's quartet in Budapest 1958 that won the unaugural European 4x100m medley crown in what remains the tightest podium finish in history.
Shiny suit era
February 1 2008