Silver lining for proud Under-21s
There were tears and cheers for Great Britain’s Under-21 squad as they landed an outstanding Silver medal in Manchester last night. The promising quintet finished with an excellent 33 points, just eight behind World Champions Poland as they picked up their sixth successive team Gold.
But Great Britain had to fend off a fierce battle from Denmark in the latter stages as they ended up with 31 and Australia on 21 points respectively. Team boss Neil Vatcher was in tears as Robert Lambert won the final race to secure Silver for the boys in red, white and blue.
He said: “I’m very emotional. This is my tenth year with the youth set-up and we are really starting to see that effort paying off.”
“It’s been a tough journey at times but I believe in these boys. Three of them here tonight are 17 or under and they got within eight points of a sensational Polish side. I’m very proud.”
British Champion Robert Lambert led the way with a brilliant 20-point haul, dropping just one in the opening race. Lambert said: “It was a tough night, it was always going to be like that because the Poles are very strong.“
“But I felt all the boys did brilliantly. I know that Dan (Bewley) and I did the majority of scoring. However, they really raced hard and were unlucky not to get more.“
“It’s a great learning experience for us all. Three of our guys are 17 or 16 and they will take a great deal from this. But I think it’s awesome we got Silver. The Danes and Aussies are also excellent teams with great futures so to beat them was a very decent result for us.”
Not surprisingly the Poles took control almost from the off, taking nine points in the opening four races. Dan Bewley won Heat 2 to raise the roof at the National Speedway Stadium but the huge Polish contingent of loud fans knew they were in for a glorious night. Great Britain’s young brigade of Drew Kemp and Kyle Bickley found it hard going but far from disgraced as they battled hard for places. But apart from Lambert and Bewley punctuating GB’s scoring with a flurry of exciting wins and placings, it was always going to be an uphill battle to hang onto the Poles.
“I’m very emotional. This is my tenth year with the youth set-up and we are really starting to see that effort paying off. It’s been a tough journey at times but I believe in these boys. Three of them here tonight are 17 or under and they got within eight points of a sensational Polish side. I’m very proud.”Neil Vatcher, Great Britain U21 Team Manager
Lambert won his joker ride to grab six points but in the latter stages Denmark came on strong and only trailed by one point behind Great Britain going into the last race. But Robert Lambert wrapped up Silver in style.
Poland 41: Bartosz Smektala 13, Dominik Kubera 12, Maksym Drabik 11, Wiktor Lampart 5.
Great Britain 33: Robert Lambert 20, Dan Bewley 11, Drew Kemp 2, Kyle Bickley 0, Leon Flint 0. Denmark 31: Mads Hansen 11, Fredrik Jakobsen 8, Patrick Hansen 6, Jonas Jeppesen 6.
Australia 21: Jaimon Lidsey 12, Jordan Stewart 5, Kyle Thomson 2, Matthew Gilmore 1, Zach Cook 1.