Birchfield’s Eden Francis played her significant, golden part in Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s most successful ever European Under-23 Championships at the weekend.
The 20-year-old’s victory brought one of the team’s 18 medals, made her one of their six champions and confirmed her status as the pre-eminent discus thrower in a continent and event traditionally dominated by former Eastern bloc competitors.
Indeed Francis produced the two longest throws of the competition and beat Russian runner-up Vera Karmishina by nearly three metres with a third-round throw of 57.29m.
By that stage some were already willing to hang the gold around her neck after she opened the final with a respectable 54.79m.
And to add to Francis’ joy was the fact compatriot Jade Nicholls claimed bronze in an almost unheard of double British success in a women’s field event.
“I enjoyed it which is different for me,” Francis said. “This is the first European Championships where I’ve come away not crying.”
It also makes up for the disappointment of having to settle for silver in the World Trials and UK Championships at her home-field in Birmingham six days earlier.
But she was unable to replicate her domestic shot put success in Lithuania as she finished sixth in an event won by Germany’s Denise Hinrichs.
It proved to be the only medal for the Harriers over four days of competition which ended in disappointment for Francis’ team-mates Jessica Leach and Meghan Beesley. Leach performed well to reach the high jump final but just as she had done at the Alexander Stadium the week before, disappointed and finished twelfth and last with a best height of 1.75m.
And Beesley went to Kaunas with hopes of being part of a British one-two-three in the 400m hurdles only to miss out on her end of the bargain as rivals Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child both ran personal bests to claim gold and silver respectively.
The 19-year-old won her heat on Thursday but missed out on Saturday’s final by one place.
Men’s discus entrant Brett Morse was also one spot short of making the final, although his best effort of 54.16 was way short of his best or indeed Francis’ winning distance.
Luke Lennon-Ford did, however, appear in a showpiece as part of the 4x400m relay squad that came sixth.