Athletics ace Lee Emanuel produced a superb performance to clinch his first major international medal yesterday (Saturday) evening.
The middle distance runner from St Leonards won silver in the men’s 3,000m at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in the Czech Republic capital of Prague.
Ali Kaya, a 20-year-old born in Kenya but representing Turkey, broke clear of the field with several laps to go and was a runaway winner in a new championship record time of 7:38.42.
But Emanuel opened a decisive gap ahead of the rest and held off fast-finishing Norwegian competitor Henrik Ingebrigtsen to come second in a new personal best of 7:48.48. The other British runner to make the final, Philip Hurst, came ninth.
“I’m a little bit disappointed. I came here to try to win. I gave it everything I had, but he (Kaya) was just too good for me,” Emanuel told BBC Sport.
“It’s nice to come here and show people I can actually run. It’s a big step for me coming to this competition. I finally feel like I can belong now.”
The result caps an excellent winter for Emanuel, who cruised through his heat on Friday evening in second place. The 30-year-old qualified for the European Championships by winning the 3,000m at the Sainsbury’s Indoor British Championships 2015 last month.
A week later he clocked the second fastest indoor 1,500m time ever by a British athlete with a superb run of 3:35.66 at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham.
Emanuel spends the bulk of his time training in New Mexico and will head straight back to the United States from Prague to begin his preparations for the summer outdoor season.
European Athletics Indoor Championships men’s 3,000m final top six finishers: 1st Ali Kaya (Turkey) CR 7:38.42, 2nd Lee Emanuel (Great Britain) PB 7:44.48, 3rd Henrik Ingebrigtsen (Norway) NR 7:45.54, 4th Jesus Espana (Spain) SB 7:47.12, 5th Richard Ringer (Germany) 7:48.44, 6th Adel Mechaal (Spain) 7:49.59.