Robbie Grabarz fires warning to Olympic rivals
3 July 2012
Former Loughborough College student Robbie Grabarz fired a warning to his Olympic rivals by producing a golden performance at European Athletics Championships in Helsinki.
The 24-year-old, who trains at Loughborough University once or twice a week, won the high jump to clinch the first major medal of his career after a titanic battle with Lithuania's Raivydas Stanys.
Both cleared 2.31m, but Grabarz took gold on countback by virtue of clearing both of his previous heights at the first attempt.
Robbie and Stanys both cleared 2.31m at the second attempt, but with neither able to get over 2.33m, Robbie was left celebrating with coach Fuzz Ahmed.
Robbie, who clinched his place at the London 2012 Olympics by winning the recent trials, is ranked second in the world in 2012 after a personal best of 2.36m in New York earlier this month.
It is a height that won Olympic gold in Beijing - where fellow Briton Germaine Mason claimed a surprise silver - and leaves him just one centimetre short of the 2.37m cleared by Russia's former world indoor champion Ivan Ukhov.
He said: "There's quite a big smile on my face so I'm quite happy. I really had fun today and learnt a lot about myself.
"I came to compete under pressure, the pressure of expectations and I've achieved my goal for the title. I didn't jump too high but I'm really happy with that result."
Asked about those crucial early clearances, he added: "That's what clinched it, being as clinical as possible. I could have done with one more first-attempt clearance and that would have really sealed the deal for me, but it's fantastic.
"It helps me keep the faith. I was really happy and confident in myself and the training we've done. It just solidifies that the stuff I am doing really does work."
In the men’s 400m hurdles Loughborough graduate Rhys Williams won gold in a time of 49.33 secs. Nathan Woodward holds the necessary qualifying times but may miss out after finishing seventh in 50.20 secs.
Goldie Sayers came close to adding to Britain's medal haul in the women's javelin final.
Goldie was briefly in the bronze medal position after a throw of 63.01m in the second round, but was overhauled by eventual winner Vira Rebryk of Ukraine and had to settle for fourth - the same position in which she finished in the Beijing Olympics.
Lee McConnell finished fifth in a time of 52.20secs in the women’s 400m and helped the Great Britain team to fourth place (3:26.20) in the 4x400 relay.
Sophie Hitchon was 11th in the javelin with a throw of 67.17 metres, while JJ Jegede finished fourth in the long jump with a leap of 8.10metres.
In the men’s 400 metres Richard Buck was fifth in 45.92 secs while Will Sharman finished fourth in his 110m hurdles semi-final and did not qualify for the final.
Loughborough graduate Claire Williams, a two-time Paralympian, won the first medal of her career at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Stadskanaal, Holland.
Claire, who has a personal best of 43.15m, threw 36.20m (836 points) to win bronze.
She said: “I’ve not been great on consistency this season so it’s something I’ve been working on. But because of that, I’ve had to step back off the intensity a bit and I think that was missing today.
“I’m really happy to win a medal and if someone had offered me that before the competition I’d have taken it.
“But I wish I could have gone closer to my PB. It’s my best series for a while and I’ve got time now to go back and work on the intensity of my throws.
“Most of the girls out there threw close to their bests while I was a bit off mine, but when it all comes together I know I can come back and win gold.”