Hellebaut spoils Swedish hopes


GOTHENBURG (Sweden): It was supposed to be Sweden's night but Belgium stole the show with two golds in under five minutes at the European championships on Friday. 

Unheralded high jumper Tia Hellebaut broke Swedish hearts by beating home favourite Kajsa Bergqvist to the title in the biggest upset of the championships so far. 

SIMPLY STUNNING: Sweden's Susanna Kallur celebratesafter winning the gold medal in the women's 100m hurdlesduring the European Championships on Friday.

Moments later Kim Gevaert added the 200 metres to the 100 crown she won on Wednesday with victory in 22.68 seconds on a damp, chilly evening in the Ullevi stadium. 

Hellebaut was waiting at the finish line to congratulate Gevaert and the ecstatic pair posed for cameras draped in Belgium flags before embarking on a lap of honour together. 

“I just screamed when she did it,” said Gevaert, who became Belgium's first woman European champion with her 100 victory. 

“To see her do that gave me wings. I didn't feel tired at all and I just went for it. What a night for Belgium.” 

In an enthralling high jump final, four women went over two metres for the first time in European championship history. 

Belgium's Kim Gevaert (right), celebrates winningthe gold medal in the women's 200m with her compatriotTia Hellebaut, who took gold in the women's highjump. – APpix

Croatia's Blanka Vlasic wilted under the pressure, leaving Bergqvist, Venelina Veneva and Hellebaut to vie for the medals in front of a capacity crowd. 

The stadium resonated with the names of Sweden's athletic heroes and Susanna Kallur made sure the crowd did not go home too disappointed by winning the 100 metres hurdles. 

Heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft gave them hope of more medals when she scraped into Sunday's long jump final with a leap of 6.53 metres on her final attempt. 

“After a heptathlon it takes weeks to recover so I have to thank the audience here who helped me to qualify, especially with my third jump,” said Kluft, who also competed on the opening two days of the championship. 

Decathlete Czech Roman Sebrle overcame rain disruptions to emulate Kluft and retain his title, the first man to do so since Britain's Daley Thompson in 1986. 

The world record holder had led the competition since the second of the 10 disciplines, the long jump, and never looked under any pressure. 

His winning total of 8,526 was the best in Europe this year and a comfortable 170 points ahead of second-placed Hungarian Attila Zsivoczky. 

In fact, Sebrle told reporters he had been somewhat lacking in motivation. 

“For the final 1,500 metres there was not too much energy left although I tried, but I must admit that some motivation was missing,” the 31-year-old Olympic champion said. 

Zsivoczky nabbed the silver after a fast 1,500 metres to see off Russia's Aleksey Drozdov by six points. 

Finland's Jukka Keskisalo won the 3,000 metres steeplechase final in 8:24.89. – Reuters  

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