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European 400m gold for Matthew Hudson-Smith one year on from almost quitting athletics

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 11/08/2018 Ben Bloom
a group of people walking on the court: Great Britain's Matthew Hudson-Smith wins gold in the Men's 400m Final © PA Great Britain's Matthew Hudson-Smith wins gold in the Men's 400m Final

This time last year, Matthew Hudson-Smith was so fed up with athletics that he almost quit. Then he rolled the dice, boarded a plane to a place he barely knew in America and now he is European 400m champion. Quite the turnaround.

It was four years ago that Hudson-Smith, 23, burst onto the international scene, winning European silver in his first year as a 400m runner. Big things were predicted but then, in his own words, he began getting “stale”.

Which was why he decided to pack his bags and move to a new coach in Clermont, Florida. It has worked a treat.

As No 1 in the European rankings coming into this competition, he admitted only he could stop himself from winning gold.

2018 European Championships - Men's 400 Meters, Final - Olympic Stadium, Berlin, Germany - August 10, 2018 - Matthew Hudson-Smith of Britain wins a gold medal. REUTERS/Michael Dalder © Reuters 2018 European Championships - Men's 400 Meters, Final - Olympic Stadium, Berlin, Germany - August 10, 2018 - Matthew Hudson-Smith of Britain wins a gold medal. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

So he almost did after flying round the first 300m of the final like a jet engine, only to run out of the gas in the closing stages. Fortunately he had built enough of a lead to hang on for gold in 44.78 seconds, clear of the Belgian Borlee brothers Kevin and Jonathan.

“I’ve found my feet,” said Hudson-Smith.“Last year, to be completely honest, I just didn’t care about the sport. I was pretty close to quitting.

“So just randomly I packed my bags, went to America and it was the best decision I ever made. I couldn’t have asked for it to go better.”

Britain’s medal tally in Berlin received a further boost thanks to bronzes from Meghan Beesley and Jake Wightman.

2018 European Championships - Men's 400 Meters, Final - Olympic Stadium, Berlin, Germany - August 10, 2018 - Matthew Hudson-Smith of Britain, Kevin Borlee of Belgium and Ricardo Dos Santos of Portugal in action. REUTERS/Michael Dalder © Getty 2018 European Championships - Men's 400 Meters, Final - Olympic Stadium, Berlin, Germany - August 10, 2018 - Matthew Hudson-Smith of Britain, Kevin Borlee of Belgium and Ricardo Dos Santos of Portugal in action. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Drawn in the difficult inside lane, 400m hurdler Beesley made light of her status as British No 2 to beat team-mate Eilidh Doyle and finish third behind Swiss winner Lea Sprunger.

Wightman produced a scintillating late surge to snatch bronze in a 1500m won by 17-year-old Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who became the youngest European track champion in history.

His victory also complete an astonishing set for the Ingebrigtsen family with Jakob following in the footsteps of brothers Henrik, who won 1500m gold in 2012, and Filip, who triumphed in 2016.

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