Eilidh Child lowered her Scottish 400 metres hurdles record in Gateshead by half a second yesterday to keep Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the running for a podium finish at the European Team Championships.
With the 12 teams split between two separate heats, the 26-year-old Scot delivered a dominating performance to win in 54.42 seconds to emphatically underline the massive strides forward she has taken since reaching the semi-finals at last summer’s Olympic Games.
Hers was one of five victories for GB on the opening day with Olympic champion Mo Farah, team captain Perri Shakes-Drayton, Jessica Judd and the men’s 4x100 squad also claiming maximum points, leaving the side in third place overall, 14 points behind leaders Russia, when battle resumes this afternoon.
However, Child, who might also run in the 4x400m relay today, conceded her surprise about going so fast. “Today was about the performance, I wasn’t too worried about the time but I thought I’d have a go at it and I’m over the moon,” she said. “I’ve felt there’s been a really good time in there for a while.” There may be more to come this summer, she added. “Hopefully come the world championships, that’s when you’ll really see my fastest times.”
Farah was imperious in the 5000 metres and Judd brilliantly defiant in the 800m. While Shakes-Drayton, normally Child’s regular nemesis over the hurdles, is showing such form in the flat 400 metres that she might seriously be pondering doubling up in Moscow. The European indoor champion’s victorious time of 50.50 seconds, a new best, was the seventh fastest in the world in 2013.
Elsewhere, Olympic gold medallist Greg Rutherford was third in the long jump. Lennie Waite, on her GB debut, was fifth in the 3000m steeplechase with fellow Scot Mark Dry 11th in the hammer.