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UEL student Maya Bruney wins gold and two bronzes at European Junior Championships

Maya, 19, is the star of the GB under-20 team after brilliant sprinting display in Italy

By Gareth Anstice

University of East London (UEL) sports scholar Maya Bruney was the star of the show at the European Athletics Under-20 Championships as she raced to a hat-trick of medals for Great Britain in Grosseto, Italy, at the weekend.

Maya, 19, produced the performance of her life to win gold in the 200 metres before winning bronzes in the 4x100 metres and 4x400 metres relays.

In the 200 metres final, Maya ran a brilliant bend to triumph in a lifetime best time of 23.04 seconds – the fastest time in Europe this year by an under-20 athlete. She had previously set personal bests in both her heat and semi-final.

Although she was confident she had the speed to win a medal, Maya could not have dreamed of winning gold by such a convincing margin. Leading off the bend, she pulled away from her competitors in the final straight to win by a huge 0.41 seconds.

Speaking to British Athletics after her race, Maya said, “That was amazing. I can’t believe that I’m European champion. I aimed to be in the final but after getting a PB [personal best] in the heat I thought I could make the podium. After running all out and getting another PB in the semi, I thought my destiny was in my own hands.

“The atmosphere is unlike anything I’ve ever done before and I had no idea how close everyone was because I couldn’t hear anything.”

Having achieved her ultimate goal, the UEL graphic design student then added to her medal collection by winning bronze in both the 4x100 metres and 4x400 metres, helping Britain to equal their best ever medal haul at a European Junior Championships with 19 medals.

“I would never have thought I’d come here and win three medals, it’s insane!” Maya said. “What a team to do it with as well – it’s been an unbelievable journey. What a way to end the champs.”

Fellow UEL student Lauren Russell also enjoyed a successful Championships, running a lifetime best on her way to a fifth-place finish in the 400 metres.

Having only been called up to squad two weeks earlier after a gold medal performance at the Bauhaus Junior Gala, Lauren followed it up with a personal best of 53.71 seconds in her heat in Grosseto.

Although she narrowly missed out on a medal, that new personal best has seen Lauren shave nearly three seconds off her previous best time in only a year – a change she’s put down to UEL’s support and expertise.

“I’ve just been working hard with the coaches at UEL, putting everything into training and using all the strength and conditioning and physio help available,” she said.

“Since I joined they couldn’t have done more to help me succeed in my athletics career and I look forward to improving more while I’m here.”