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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Athletes Return in Triumph

GOTEBORG, Sweden -- Russian athletes returned home in triumph Monday after dominating the European Athletics Championships in Goteburg, and Portugal's Obikwelu burst onto the world stage winning the men's sprint double in an incident-packed week.

Russia won a total of 34 medals, 12 of them gold, but the country's chief coach, Valery Kulichenko. was still not fully satisfied with his team's showing.

"We should have won more, a lot more," the demanding coach told reporters.

Germany finished a distant second with 10 medals -- four gold -- while Britain, another strong nation in European athletics, had 11 medals but only one of them gold.

Kulichenko was particularly upset with the Russians losing the women's steeplechase, 400-meter and 5,000-meter races and the men's 400.

"Our runners had gold medals snapped from their grasp at the last moment because they made stupid tactical errors near the finish," he said.

Kulichenko said he now wanted his athletes to take on the Americans and show their strength at next year's world championships in Osaka, Japan, and at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Despite the coach's criticisms, it was a highly successful meet for Russia, which they capped its week by winning the women's 4 x 100 meter sprint relay on Sunday. The team comfortably beat Britain for second place with a time of 42.71 seconds. Belarus took the bronze medal.

It was also a successful week for Portugal's Francis Obikwelu, who won the 100 and 200 titles at the European championships and emerged as a genuine European contender for the Olympic sprints often dominated by the United States. The 27-year-old became the first man since 1978 to win the sprint double.

The elegant Obikwelu ran a championship record of 9.99 seconds for the 100 after completing three heats and four races later clocked 20.01 seconds for the 200, his fastest time in a Portugal uniform.

His laidback style is reminiscent of Jamaican world-record holder Asafa Powell. Both rarely have decent starts but make the art of winning look effortless as they then pull ahead of the field.

At the 2004 Olympics, Obikwelu finished second in the 100 to Justin Gatlin, who faces a life ban for testing positive for testosterone.

Belgium's Kim Gevaert matched Obikwelu's feat by winning the women's sprint double to become her country's first female European champion, but it was her compatriot Tia Hellebaut who pulled off the biggest shock of the championships with victory over the defending champion, Sweden's Kajsa Bergqvist in the high jump.

Hellebaut had the competition of her life, setting two Belgian records and a championship record as she cleared 2.03 meters in an enthralling competition.

World champion Bergqvist had to settle for bronze and Hellebaut's sympathy.

"It's been maybe two years now that people have been talking about Kajsa getting the gold here. I think it was maybe big pressure for her. I feel sad," the bespectacled Belgian said.

Bergqvist's compatriot, Olympic champion Stefan Holm, suffered the same fate after 21-year-old Russian Andrei Silnov cleared 2.36 for gold, setting two personal bests and a championship record along the way.

"My runup, technique, and speed. I want to prove in the next few years that I belong in the world class," Silnov said.

Along with Kluft, who took advantage of the withdrawal of her only serious challenger, Eunice Barber, to win the women's heptathlon, Christian Olsson eased Sweden's pain and showed he was back to his best after almost two years of being out with an injury by retaining his triple-jump title with the leading distance in Europe this year, 17.67 meters.

Disgraced sprinter Dwain Chambers, who was stripped of his 2002 100-meter and relay golds for doping, made it to the top of the podium again as part of Britain's victorious 4 x 100 quartet.

"It's good to get it back, and it's good to make up what we lost by my foolishness. But the past is the past, and we're all smiling again," said Chambers, who finished seventh in the individual 100.

Pole vault world-record holder Yelena Isinbayeva completed her medal set, adding the European title to her world and Olympic ones.