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ATHLETICS: Lifetime-best Harris sparks British success.

Birchfield Harrier Amy Harris opened the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team's medal account on the final day of European Junior Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Harris took second place in the long jump with a lifetime best leap of 6.35m to win Britain's 11th medal at the four-day meeting.

The 17-year-old college student said: 'I was ranked 12th when I came out here. Finishing second in qualifying with a personal best (6.23m) yesterday gave me confidence.'

Harris exceeded that with four of her jumps yesterday to take second place behind Denisa Scerbova (Czech Republic), who jumped a season's best of 6.57m.

Morag MacLarty, from Central AAC in Scotland, ran her fastest 1500m to earn the team their fourth gold medal.

MacLarty, who won Britain's 12th medal of the championships, was never out of the first three and led with 90m remaining before winning by two metres in 4:15.12, beating her previous best by five seconds.

The men's 4x100m team suffered a dreadful anti-climax after winning five of the six individual medals at 100m and 200m.

A hand-over mix-up between the two fastest men in the championships, 100m champion Craig Pickering and silver medallist Simeon Williamson, at the third changeover meant the team did not finish the semi-final heat.

Germany won the final in 39.90 seconds.

Britain's sixth gold medal was won by the 4x400m quartet of Richard Buck, Richard Strachan, Set Osho and Martyn Rooney.

They clocked 3:06.67 to hold off Russia, who were second in a national junior record of 3:07.19.

Britain finished with 14 medals - six gold, five silver and three bronze - and finished second to Russia with Germany third Zoe Derham improved by the massive margin of 1.64 metres to achieve a Birchfield Harriers women's hammer club record distance of 63.93m when she was runner-up to Scotland's Shirley Webb at the Loughborough international meeting yesterday, writes Tom McCook.

The 24-year old England International advanced to fourth on the UK all-time rankings and also had the satisfaction of accomplishing three throws over 63m.

A day after she had broken the 60m barrier for the first time, Lesley Brannan repeated the feat by throwing 60.01m as a guest at Loughborough.

Tom Parsons equalled the match-winning height of 2.18m to take second place in count back in the high jump.

Kelly Sotherton prepared for her season's heptathlon debut in Gotzis by competing in three disciplines.

The Olympic bronze medallist was third in the 100m hurdles in 13.45 seconds and was one of three athletes to clear 1.79m in the high jump.

In wet miserable conditions, the 28-year-old threw the javelin only 33.30m but she was unconcerned.

She said: 'If that is the worst that I am going to do, it's OK. I didn't show here what I have being doing in training and I can throw that far from a standing start. I am stronger, faster and fitter than last year. I want people to start worrying about me rather than me worrying about them.'

The women's javelin competition also featured three other Birchfield Harriers. Jo Blair, aged 19, from Kenilworth and representing the Great Britain Juniors team, was runner-up with an effort of 49.08m.

Becky Bartlett achieved a season's best of 47.22m for fourth on her England debut. The former English Schools' champion Helen Mounteney threw 45.13m as a guest competitor.

The former European Junior champion Chris Baillie - competing for Scotland - clocked 13.88 seconds for third in the men's110m hurdles.

Michelle Thomas stopped the clock in 59.36 seconds to be third in the invitation 400m hurdles, won by the Australian world champion Jana Pittman.

Leigh Smith, a 22-year-old from Willenhall, also made a successful England debut by finishing third in the match with a leap of 7.21m.

Henrietta Paxton, competing for British Universities, was fourth in the women's long jump with 6.05m

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Amy Harris had a long jump of 6.35 metres for second place
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 25, 2005
Words:671
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