Adam Gemili destroyed his French rival Christophe Lemaitre to win European 200m gold and confirm his status as one of his adopted sport’s most exciting young talents.
The 20-year-old Briton, who only took up full-time sprinting in 2012, matched his own personal best of 19.98 seconds despite cold, wet conditions and a headwind of 1.6 metres per second.
Lemaitre was left in his wake on the bend and could not dent that lead down the straight as Gemili won his first senior title and Britain’s 100th gold in the championships’ long history.
“I’m so happy,” Gemili told BBC Sport. “To become European champion was a big target for me this year and to achieve it is amazing.”
With Martyn Rooney winning 400m goldearlier ahead of team-mate Matt Hudson-Smith, Jodie Williams taking 200m silver and Laura Weightman’s gutsy 1500m bronze, it added up to another mighty night for the British team in Zurich and kept them atop the medal table.
Gemili’s performance was the pick as the kid who was playing football for Thurrock three years ago became the first Briton since Dougie Walker 16 years ago to take the European crown.
Since switching to track the south Londoner has won the world junior title, reached the semi-finals of London 2012 and won Commonwealth 100m silver.
This was his best yet, the accepted calculations used by athletics statisticians indicating that his run was worth a theoretical 19.90 seconds in still conditions and 19.82 with a tailwind to match that he was running into.
He ran a superb bend and held that form and speed into the final 80m as Lemaitre, champion four years ago, took silver in 20.15, with Serhiy Smelyk in bronze.
“It’s really cold,” Gemili added. “I don’t know why the race is so late and the track was wet. It’s really nice that I can come out and do it for the guys behind me.
“I used to think the only way I’d be able to hear the national anthem was with the England football team. It’s a great feeling, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Williams produced her third personal best of the summer behind a sensational run from Dafne Schippers to overhaul France’s Myriam Soumare for silver, with fellow 20-year-old Bianca Williams in fourth.
Schippers’ brilliant 22.03 secs, the fastest time in the world this year and the fastest by a European in 19 years, belied her status as a heptathlete stepping down to the sprints for a year.
There was disappointment for 18-year-old world junior champion Dina Asher-Smith in her first major final, a hamstring injury forcing her to pull up halfway round the bend.
But Williams’ medal – the first by a British woman in this event since Kathy Cook’s 32 years ago, and the fastest time by a British woman since 1984 – confirmed this as the summer when her rich junior promise began to pay dividends.
She told BBC Sport: “I’m so happy. To come away with two silver medals at senior level – I couldn’t ask for any more. I was trying to chase Dafne down but her time was crazy.”
Weightman added European 1500m bronze to her Commonwealth silver with a brave run behind Sifan Hassan and Abeba Aregawi.
The Briton took the race on with 600m to go and then, when the two world-class athletes in the field went past her at the bell, held off the pursuing pack in the last few metres.