:eek: Britain’s Men Suffer First Relegation
Sun 19 Jun, 8:19 PM
Great Britain’s men were relegated from the European Cup’s top division for the first time after finishing seventh in the eight-team competition in Florence.
Despite a surprise win in the 4x400metres relay to end the competition, Britain tallied just 70 points over the three-day event, only finishing ahead of the Czech Republic, who scored 63 points.
The last two teams will be relegated to the first league for 2006, while Germany (113) retained their crown as champions.
Britain have won the Cup on five occasions since 1989, most recently in 2002 in Annecy, France. In a close competition last year in Bydgoszcz, Poland, they were fourth, just five points behind Germany.
The quartet of Robert Tobin, Graham Hedman, Malachi Davis and Tim Benjamin clocked 3:00.51 to score an upset over favourites Poland and France in the relay. The performance was the second fastest in the world this year, and the fastest by a British team since 2002.
“It’s a great time and a really young squad as well,” said the anchor Benjamin, who despite the win was disappointed about the team’s descent from Europe’s premier athletics league.
“It’s unfortunate that we got a bit of bad luck with some injuries, the hurdler falling over, Chris Rawlinson not being fit enough. Just unlucky on a number of events and those events stack up.”
Christian Malcolm’s victory in the 200m was another moment of consolation for the British side on the last of the three-day competition.
The former world and European junior champion in the event, Malcolm reached the line in 20.15secs, a season’s best that made the 26-year-old the ninth fastest in the world this year.
It was a huge improvement for Malcolm, whose previous best this season was 20.92, as well as a boost after illness kept him from the Olympics last summer.
“It was a surprise, to be perfectly honest,” Malcolm said of a performance that was his fastest since he posted his personal best of 20.08 in 2001.
He missed the Athens Olympics because of a kidney failure, and added today: “After suffering a major disappointment last year, it is great to come back.”
Another highlight was Mo Farrah’s run to finish second in a tactical 3000m, clocking 8:17.28, behind Spain’s Jesus Espana (8:16.48).
Elsewhere, Nathan Douglas regrouped after a pair of fouls to finish fifth in the triple jump, with a best effort of 16.54m.
Despite running a season’s best of 1:48.50, Jimmy Watkins was a distant seventh in the 800m. Nick Nieland also finished seventh in the javelin, with a best of 73.97.
Nick Buckfield finished last in the pole vault whose lone clearance was at his opening height of 5.20m, while hurdler David Hughes - after hitting three of the first four barriers - failed to finish the 110m hurdles.