Amber Valley & Erewash AC's Alex Knibbs impresses in Euro U23 Championships
Amber Valley & Erewash Athletic Club’s Alex Knibbs ran his best 400m hurdles race to date on Saturday when he finished fourth in the final at the European U23 Championships held in Tallinn, Estonia.
Just missing the bronze medal by three tenths of a second, the Loughborough student had the satisfaction of running a new personal best of 49:37.
His time was the seventh fastest all time by an U23 athlete in the UK and also ensured that he beat the 49:60 qualifying standard set by England Athletics for next summer's Commonwealth Games.
Knibbs, who is from Duffield, had to contend with a heat and semi-final to ensure his passage to the final. He won his first round race on Thursday in a time of 50:27 ahead of German athlete, Emil Agyekum.
Introducing a new stride pattern for the first 200m of Friday’s semi-final, he ran a controlled race, conserving energy to finish second in 50 seconds dead behind Alessandro Sibilio (Italy), the pre-race favourite.
Knibbs’ second place ensured a favourable lane draw for the final and the race proved to be very quick with the first five finishers all running personal bests.
Sibilio dominated and took the gold medal in a new championship record of 48:42, ahead of Agyekum, who had upped his game from the previous rounds returning a time of 48:96.
Dutch athlete Ramsey Angela took the bronze a couple of metres ahead of Knibbs while Alistair Chalmers, the other British athlete in the final, finished sixth in a season’s best time of 49:84.
Knibbs improved upon his eighth place finish at the 2019 Championships and said: “My target ahead of the Championships was to medal and get a PB, so I’m pretty pleased.
"I was comfortable with my speed the whole time. Obviously I just missed out on the medal but sometimes you can’t do much about that – I ran as fast as I could and couldn’t do much more and you can’t take the time away from me.
"We’d been working on a new stride pattern for the first 200m for a while and went for it in the semi-final which worked well."
Now coached by Nick Dakin at Loughborough, Knibbs’ potential was first nurtured over the long hurdles by AVEAC club coach, Julie Feeney.
That potential began to be realised when as a 15-year-old he finished fourth in the UK School Games in 2015 and two years later went on to won the English School’s Senior title.
The games in Tallinn were Alex’s third major European Championship at U20 and U23 level.
He has also appeared in the World Junior Championships in 2018, gaining a bronze medal in the 4x400 Relay.
He will now take a well earned rest before turning his attention to gaining selection for the Commonwealth Games next August in Birmingham.
He added: "My plan now is to rest for a week and then see how things go for the rest of the season.
"I’m not sure there are many big competitions happening while the Olympics are on but my targets for next year are the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the World Championships so they’ll be my main focus.”