As the athletics world continues to await what Alberto Salazar claims will be an indisputable rebuttal against accusations of misdeeds and while Mo Farah seeks refuge from the strains imposed by the saga, the noise of actual competition has been all but drowned out by the hubris. But with the UK Championships less than two weeks away, many of the country’s best have been transported to the unexpected safe haven of Russia this weekend in the hope that their actions will speak louder than others words.
The European Team Championships, held this year in Cheboksary, has lost some of the lustre it once held but for Eilidh Child, it was a testing ground to explore her readiness for the battles ahead. Without a victory so far this summer, the European 400 metres hurdles champion removed that blemish from her record by bursting forth yesterday and contributing the maximum points available in her event.
With Great Britain & Northern Ireland trailing Russia, France and Germany in the overall standings heading into this afternoon’s conclusion, the 28-year-old’s triumph, in 54.46 seconds – the quickest by any European in 2015 – was a welcome boost for both team and individual.
With a place at the World Championships to cement by defending her British title in Birmingham, Child senses she is running into prime form. “I’ve been travelling a lot for a few different races so I feel like I’ve not done a great deal of training,” she said. “So I need to get back and do a good block. We’ll do that and then build up towards the championships. I’m not sure what I’ve got after the trials. I’m just going to gear everything towards that to get the qualification secured for the worlds and then we will take it from there.”
Hers was among four British wins on the opening day with the men’s 4x100m squad reaping a championship record, Asha Philip impressively resilient in the women’s 100m and Jarryd Dunn completing what has been an arduous fightback from injury to lower his personal best to 45.09 seconds in the 400m.
“I had a stress fracture in 2013 and last year I was getting back into the sport trying to establish myself again,” he said. “My coach always said this year will be the year I come out and really push forward. But to be knocking on the door of 44 now, I didn’t expect to be this quick.”
On her senior debut, Kirsty Law was only tenth in the discus but there were better returns for fellow Scot Lennie Waite whose late turn of speed took her into second place in the 3000m steeplechase in 9:59.75.
“That time is nowhere near what I wanted but I cannot complain because if anyone told me I was going to come here and come second I would have been like ‘sounds good to me’,” said the Texan-based specialist, who had a change of heart after originally retiring following the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“I did this event last year and I remember a little voice in my head saying that would be cool to be doing it three years in a row. Then I opened up my season and I ran fast, I thought it was a real possibility.”
There were notable second places elsewhere for Richard Kilty in the 100m and Nick Miller in the hammer. Scottish pole vault record holder Jax Thoirs makes his senior bow in Cheboksary today with Guy Learmonth in the 800m and Andy Butchart running the 3000m.