Historic ‘triple-double’ for distance runner after 5,000m triumph while team claim five titles on the last day to finish top of the medal table
n the lustrous glow of a Swiss summer’s afternoon, British athletics enjoyed a day in the sun greater than any it had seen.
Little did Mo Farah realise, as he swept to his third European 5,000â€‰metres title, that he was spearheading an extraordinary charge to five gold and three bronze medals to make this officially the country’s most garlanded day in major championships history.
For symbolism of such an achievement, we needed look no further than the figure of young Desiree Henry, anchoring the women’s sprint-relay quartet to an astonishing fifth victory in the space of 2¼ hours.
Where the gold rush had all begun with a rousing triumph in the 10,000m for Jo Pavey, 41 next month and a mother-of-two, it ended with joy for an 18-year-old firmly in the vanguard of the next generation.
The cumulative swag of 12 golds and 23 medals overall was the highest for Britain at any European championships. For only the third time in the event’s 90-year history, after Brussels in 1950 and Budapest in 1998, the team also finished at the summit of the medal table. It felt momentarily as if the British had annexed this genteel residential quarter of Zurich around the Letzigrund Stadium, such was the profusion of Union flags.
From Farah’s fourth distance double in five seasons to the precocious success of Adam Gemili, the former Chelsea academy starlet who won the 200m title in 19.98â€‰seconds at the age of 20, the sense of a renaissance was palpable.