Clitheroe leads the way

BRITISH distance runner Helen Clitheroe claimed her first ever gold medal at the age of 37 as her teenage team-mate, sprinter Jodie Williams, offered a glimpse of the team’s future at the European Indoor Championships.

Clitheroe, whose previous career highlight was 1,500m bronze at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and lost her central funding a year ago, ensured her moment of glory by pipping Russian Olesya Syreva.

Sprinter Dwain Chambers and 800m star Jenny Meadows both earned silver medals, as did the men’s and women’s 400m relay teams, to cap a successful weekend in Paris for the British squad.

Hotly-tipped schoolgirl Williams, 17, also shone, finishing just outside the medals in fourth place in the 60m final in her first appearance at a senior championships.

But it was team captain Clitheroe’s day, and the Lancashire veteran, who had previously finished fourth in four major finals, could hardly comprehend edging out Syreva by three hundredths of a second.

“I can’t believe it; it’s what I’ve been dreaming of but never quite daring to say out loud. Even when they said it was me I thought ‘wait wait wait, it can’t be me’,” she said.

“There have been many years of trying, and to have a gold medal, to win a gold medal when I’m team captain: oh my gosh, I’m going to enjoy this.”

Williams, the current world junior 100m champion and 200m silver medallist, equalled the personal best she achieved in Saturday’s semi-final to take a hugely impressive fourth place in the 60m final.

Chambers beat home favourite and European 100m champion Christophe Lemaitre into third place but was pipped himself in a photo finish by Portugal’s Francis Obikwelu.

Meadows also finished second in the 800m before helping Marilyn Okoro, who came fifth, Kelly Sotherton and Lee McConnell earn silver in the women’s 4 x 400m.