PLYMOUTH’S Myles Pillage won a second European Championship gold medal in as many days at the University of Bath on Wednesday.
Fresh from winning mixed relay gold with fellow Plymothian Kerenza Bryson on Tuesday, Pillage teamed up with Oliver Murray to take the honours in the men’s relay.
They did it the hard way too after starting eighth and 25 seconds adrift in the decisive laser-run before working their way brilliantly through the field to cross the line first ahead of Ukraine and Hungary, much to the delight of a big home crowd.
“To win two golds in two days is an absolute dream,” said Pillage. “To hear that support gives you so much energy, an extra kick when you need it, and we definitely needed it today.”
It was an evenly-matched start in the fencing hall but Pavel Tsikhanau and Kirill Kasyanik of Belarus and Hungary’s Istvan Malits and Richard Bereczki eventually edged ahead with 24 wins apiece from their 36 bouts, just one ahead of both Russia and Germany.
The GB duo found the going tough and finished ninth overall after winning 14 bouts but excelled in the swimming pool, setting easily the fastest time of 1:48.16 in the 2x100m freestyle relay.
That was nearly six seconds clear of nearest challengers Danil Kalimullin and Egor Puchkarevskiy of Russia, while Ukraine were third fastest, but it was Belarus who maintained a narrow overall advantage going into the ride.
The competition became even tighter after a riding discipline that saw the countries starting in fourth to eighth all perform well while the top three of Belarus, Russia and Hungary found their horses more challenging to handle.
The Czech Republic’s Martin Bilko and Ondrej Svechota recorded a clear round, picking up the maximum 300 points, and Great Britain, Italy, Ukraine and Germany all clipped just one fence apiece with assured performances in gusty conditions.
That meant it was Germany’s Jan Kauffman and Pele Uibel who went into the run-shoot with a one-second lead over Ukraine’s Vladysav Rydvanskyi and Andriy Fedechko but just 18 seconds separated the top eight, setting the stage for a thrilling finale.
Germany managed to maintain their lead on the first couple of legs of the laser-run but the teams remained bunched up behind them. Pillage eventually pushed through to hand over to Murray in second place and the senior championship debutant shot superbly to leave the range in the lead.
Ukraine’s Fedechko tried to apply pressure but Murray held his nerve to bring GB home in style, securing the host nation’s second title in as many events at these championships. Hungary, who recorded the second quickest time of the laser-run, completed the podium.