Athletics - Britain drop baton in 4x100m final

Christian Malcolm took full responsibility as Great Britain's sprinters again fluffed their lines at the European Championships in Helsinki.

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Athletics - Britain drop baton in 4x100m final
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Britain's Dwain Chambers (R) fails to gab the batton from Britain's Christian Malcolm (L) during the men's 4x100m relay final at the 2012 European Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki (AFP)

One day after the women failed to make their 4x100m final, ruling them out of the Olympics, the men dropped the baton in what is becoming a depressingly familiar story for Britain.

Malcolm got off to flying start but so did Dwain Chambers, so fast that he'd started well before the first-leg runner could complete the changeover, leaving James Ellington and Mark Lewis Francis stranded down the track and looking back in disbelief.

Malcolm, who is set to be named in his fourth Olympic team, held his hands up for the error, although he claimed the tight bends in Helsinki did help.

"We win and lose as a team but I will take responsibility for what happened," he said.

"I got thrown a bit coming round the turn and lost momentum, it’s my job to try and get the job over to Dwain and I could not quite get it in.

"This is gutting, it was a great opportunity for us to stake a place for the team at the Olympics and we were up for it.

"We all felt we definitely could have won that race, we were really up for it, all the guys wanted to put it down and it just didn’t happen.

"It’s nothing to do with lack of practice, it’s just one of those things. Everyone’s been having problems with the corners at these championships."

Great Britain's sprint relay record at major championships does not make for happy reading.

At last year's worlds they dropped the baton in the final, while one year earlier, at the last Europeans, they didn't even get that far.

They did win world bronze in Berlin three years ago, making amends for another baton fumble at the Beijing Olympics.

It's clear with less speed than their rivals, they are pushing changeovers to the limit but it's a win or bust strategy that produces red faces more often than medals.

"It’s disappointing, the conditions were perfect and we had great preparation but the cards that we were dealt were just not great cards," added Chambers.

"As much as Christian wants to take the blame we are all a team here, we as a team are to blame - if one falls we all fall. We will bounce back though."

In the women’s 4x100m final reigning champions and favourites Ukraine dropped the baton as Germany took the gold.

Meanwhile, Jo Pavey insisted she had no plans to hang up her spikes soon as she prepares for her fourth Olympic campaign.

Pavey, who missed out on marathon selection, won her first major championship medal in six years with a silver behind Portugal's Dulce Felix over 10,000m.

“I’m just really thrilled to get a medal and doing track this year has been really fun after spending two years away trying the marathon," she said.

“It’s made me feel young again. You feel like ‘have you still got the ability to run on the track?’ It’s been a nice surprise to feel I can still do it at this age.

“Having a chance to go to the Olympics in my own country is a special opportunity in an athlete’s career and it’s really what’s kept me going.

“At some point I’ll retire, but I don’t think I’ll necessarily retire at the end of this year - I still want to keep going while I can."

Nigel Levine, Conrad Williams, Rob Tobin and Richard Buck helped Britain claim 4x400m silver behind hot favourites Belgian but the women's quartet, who rested Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu, settled for fourth.

Elsewhere, Will Sharman's Olympic dreams appear over after he failed to make the 110m hurdles final, despite running a season's best 13.55 seconds.

With Andy Pozzi and Lawrence Clarke assured their places, Sharman needed a headline performance in Helsinki to put his name ahead of world medallist Andy Turner in the selection process.

Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov converted his European Under-23 title into senior gold in the event, winning the final in 13.16 to see France’s Garfield Darien to a second consecutive silver medal.

JJ Legede just missed the medals in the long jump and his best jump of 8.10 metres was 10 centimetres down on the selection standard he needed. The gold went to Germany's Sebastian Bayer.

France’s Renaud Lavillenie retained his European pole vault crown clearing 5.97 metres to win the pole vault and leap to top the world rankings ahead of the London Olympics, which start later this month.

In the men's 1500m it was gold for Norway's Henrik Ingebrigtsen, while in the women's event it was a Turkish one-two as Asli Cakir-Alptekin took gold ahead of compatriot Gamze Bulut.

Cakir, the world indoor bronze medallist, started to move through the field with two laps to go and shrieked with delight as she won in a time of 4:05.31.

"To be second after my great idol Asli is like a gold medal for me," said silver-medallist Bulut.

"When I saw that she overtook me, I shouted to her: 'go'."

Ingebrigtsen gave Norway their first European 1,500 medal in the men's race winning gold in a time of 3:46.20 but there was disappointment for the crowd at the Olympic stadium when Finland's Niclas Sandells fell with 500 to go.

Croatia's Sandra Perkovic defended her title in the women's discus, while Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk won the hammer after winning bronze in Barcelona two years ago.

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