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June 23, 2017

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Schippers follows in footsteps of Blankers-Koen

ZURICH -- Dafne Schippers emulated legendary Dutch compatriot Fanny Blankers-Koen by completing the 100m-200m sprint double at the European athletics championships on Friday.

The original "Flying Dutchwoman," Blankers-Koen won both sprints at Brussels in 1950.

Having won the 100m on Wednesday, Schippers took victory in the 200m, improving her Dutch record from 22.34sec to a world leading 22.03sec and finishing 0.43sec clear of runner-up, Jodie Williams of Britain.

"A world-leading mark is unbelievable," said 22-year-old Schippers, a bronze medallist in the heptathlon at the world championships in Moscow last year.

"I did not dream of running 22.03sec, and I have two gold medals too. It's a great success not just for me but for my country."

Coming into this year's European championships, the Netherlands had only won three gold medals since 1982.

But they won two on Friday and now have three in Zurich, one shy of their record tally from 1950.

There might have been greater Dutch success in the heptathlon but Nadine Broersen was eclipsed by Antoinette Nana Djimou of France in the final event, the 800m, and had to settle for silver, 53 points shy of the winner's points tally of 6,551.

Still, as well as that silver, there was another gold for the Dutch in the women's 1500m, Sifan Hassan finishing 0.90sec clear of another Ethiopian native, world outdoor and indoor champion Abeba Aregawi of Sweden, in 4min 04.18sec.

There were one-twos for Britain in the men's 400m, Martyn Rooney edging out 19-year-old Matt Hudson-Smith by 0.04sec in 44.71sec, and for Poland in the 800m, Adam Kszczot claiming gold ahead of Artur Kuciapski in 1 min 44.15sec.

Ukraine also claimed silver and gold in the high jump, world champion Bogdan Bondarenko clearing 2.35m to beat compatriot Andriy Protsenko (2.33m) with Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov of Russia taking bronze (2.30m).

Britain's Adam Gemili produced a storming run to take the men's 200m crown in 19.98sec, finishing a decisive 0.17sec clear of Christophe Lemaitre, who at least had the consolation of taking his European Championship medal haul to seven, a record for a male athlete.

The loudest cheer of the night, however, came when Kariem Hussein claimed gold for hosts Switzerland, producing a grandstand finish to win the 400m hurdles in 48.96sec.

"The crowd was awesome," Hussein said. "It feels strange. I am tremendously happy but all of my emotions went into the race."

The first world record of the championships came in the men's 50km walk, Frenchman Yohann Diniz winning in 3hr 32 min 33sec.

"This is the best day of my life," the 36-year-old said, after slicing 1min 41 sec off the previous record, held by Russian Denis Nizhegorodov.

In honour of his late Portuguese grandmother, Diniz crossed the line clutching French and Portugese flags but stayed on the right side of the rulebook unlike his French teammate Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad who was stripped of his 3,000m steeplechase title for removing his singlet in celebration on Thursday.

Mekhissi-Benabbad eased into Sunday's 1500m final by finishing third in his first round heat and then insisted he had "no regrets" about his home straight antics of the night before.

"In every other sport you can take your vest off," he said. "Only in athletics you cannot do this. I did not hinder anybody."

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