Jessica Gadirova retains her European women’s floor exercise title | EC in athletics

There have been falls and tears, no doubt the odd bruise too. Crises of confidence that required security to repair. Even since arriving in Munich for these European Championships, Jessica Gadirova felt her faith waver under the microscope of mistakes that were often invisible to the naked eye.

On Sunday, however, the 17-year-old Briton was resolute and stern, and the reward was gold in the floor exercise and a successful defense of her continental crown. Jumping and jumping with the greatest of ease, she led her rivals with a score of 14,000, with her twin sister Jennifer in fifth place. A silver medalist here already, this was a level above, validation for skipping the Commonwealth Games to give it his all. And for occasional moments of damaging deflation, including a slip on the beam during qualifying, she simply had to push through.

“I just tried to put them behind me and just keep moving forward and try to forget what happened,” Gadirova said. “Because they don’t really define me. I know who I am and I know what I am capable of. And I think it definitely shows that I am capable of achieving great things.”

Silver and bronze were captured by the Italian duo of Martina Maggio and Andrea Andreoli, but Gadirova’s gold complemented a silver on the balance beam for her compatriot Ondine Achampong, who was only beaten by Germany’s Emma Malewski. A newcomer since the team bronze was won by the British women at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, Achampong now has high standards to match.

“It comes with an expectation,” said the 18-year-old Achampong. She has deferred an academic offer to the University of California until after the 2024 Paris Olympics. “It drives you on because you can’t relax. You have to work at your best every single day.”

Meanwhile, Great Britain’s rowers produced a Sunday surge to top the final standings with 10 medals, a positive testament to the refresh started by the sport’s director of performance, Louise Kingsley, since she took charge after a nadir of just two medals in Tokyo.

There was gold in the women’s lightweight double sculls for Emily Craig and Imogen Grant and silver in the women’s four, while the PR3 mixed coxed four matched their Paralympic triumph.

Emily Craig and Imogen Grant celebrate their victory in Munich. Photo: Srđan Stevanović/Getty Images for British Rowing

Amidst the inevitable generational change, there has been a cultural shift in the cause of restoring lost luster. Kingsley, a former trainer, researched the formula and made her adjustments. “We’ve always looked at crews that are in amazing physical shape,” she said. “But I guess where we’re going now is that you can’t be at the top of the podium with just physicality. You’ve got to rest well. And that’s probably the trademark you’re starting to see in some of our crews. It’s the quality of their technical rowing that makes the best use of their physiology. And it gives resilience. So you also have the psychological advantage.”

Craig and Grant were more than five seconds clear of their French rivals while the PR3 crew of Francesca Allen, Giedre Rakauskaite, Edward Fuller and Oli Stanhope led the field by 19 seconds but narrowly missed out on a world record time they had sought as a tribute to their coxswain , Erin Kennedy, who walks to fight breast cancer.

Next stop on the road to Paris: Czech Republic for next month’s World Cup. “Feet firmly on the ground,” Kingsley said. – There is still a long way to go.

Elsewhere, at the European Swimming Championships in Rome, James Wilby – who ended England’s Adam Peaty’s long unbeaten run at the Commonwealth Games – struck gold in the 200m breaststroke in 2:08.96. There was silver for Freya Anderson in the women’s 200m freestyle and bronze for the British quartet Tom Dean, Jacob Whittle, Matt Richards and Ed Mildred in the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay.

Meanwhile, Birmingham could bid for the next European multi-sport championships in 2026. The city is on a shortlist of two along with Budapest to host the rights to this summer’s European Athletics Championships, which will not be formally integrated with other sports, as it will be in Munich.

However, it has emerged that representatives from Birmingham will travel here this week to oversee the event. And sources at the organizers confirmed that the door will be open to bringing other sports to the city that lands, the athletics exhibition with infrastructure and a useful plan now in place from the recent Commonwealth Games.

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