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Child's gold top

It was not quite a famous golden double to match Scotland's finest day in the 80-year-history of the European Athletics Championships.

Eilidh Child was able to savour a golden moment in Zurich as she lived up to her billing as favourite in the 400m hurdlesPhotograph: EPA
Eilidh Child was able to savour a golden moment in Zurich as she lived up to her billing as favourite in the 400m hurdlesPhotograph: EPA

On an August day in Split back in the mists of 1990 Yvonne Murray won the 3000m and then wept tears of joy as her training partner Tom McKean stepped up on to the podium to receive his reward for winning the 800m.

Yesterday, in the hallowed Swiss Letzigrund Stadium, Eilidh Child held her nerve and the lead - only just - in a thrilling finish to the 400m hurdles final. In doing so, the 27-year-old pride of Perth and Pitreavie AAC became only the third Scottish woman to win an outdoor European title, after Murray and Lynsey Sharp, both members of Edinburgh AC.

Sharp claimed the 800m title from the 2012 championships in Helsinki in retrospect, after "abnormalities" were found in the biological passport of Yelena Arzhakova, the Russian who beat her to the line.

Victory for the 24-year-old law graduate in her final yesterday would not just have matched the golden double achieved by Murray and McKean 24 years ago, it would have made Sharp the first British woman, and the first Scot of either sex, to retain a European outdoor title.

Sadly, it was not to be, and Sharp had to settle for a silver to match the one she claimed at the Commonwealth Games two weeks ago, and a wonderful Scottish record, as reward for a supremely gutsy effort.

For Child, though, there was a golden moment to savour on the continental stage after Commonwealth silver at Hampden. At the 10th and final hurdle, the one-time Scottish schools' swimming champion was clear in front but she had to grit her teeth to finish 0.08sec ahead of Ukrainian Anna Titimets.

"My legs were dying when I came off that last hurdle," Child confessed. "All of a sudden I was about five metres out and everybody came alongside me. I didn't know when I crossed the line that I had held on."

Asked whether European gold abroad was sweeter than Commonwealth silver at home, Child said: "Obviously, the Commonwealths meant a lot because it was at home but to actually have my own title now and be European champion is the best feeling ever."

Child can go for another medal in the 4x400m relay final today, when the Great Britain squad bid to eclipse their record gold tally of nine - they have seven going into the final day- and their highest haul of all medals, 19, four more than their current total.

Sharp deserved a gold for her bold, attacking run. She was passed by Maryna Arzamasova 80m from the line, the Belarussian prevailing in 1min 58.15 sec. Sharp finished in 1:58.80, eclipsing the Scottish record of 1:59.02 set by Susan Scott at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.

"Gutted," Sharp said when greeted by her mother, Carol Lightfoot, after departing the arena. Wiping back tears, she reflected on the wisdom of her all-out approach.

"It was slightly suicidal," she said. "Everyone said I looked amazing in the semi-final so I went out and did exactly what I did then. I was two seconds faster, which is why I paid for it in the home straight. Steve Cram was a bit critical of me two years ago, saying that I sit at the back and finish hard, and that was playing on my mind."

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