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Russia make it a hat-trick of European team titles

(Reuters) - Russia won the European team championships for the third year running on Sunday thanks to a flurry of points in the final three events.

They finished the two-day competition in Gateshead, north east England, on 354.5 points, with Germany (347.5) second and Britain (338) third.

After 37 of the 40 events, Germany held the lead but just three points separated the top three. Dmitriy Tarabin's personal best throw of 85.99 metres for victory in the javelin put the defending champions back in front.

Second place in the men's 4x400 metres relay behind home favourites Britain secured the title for Russia after Germany could only manage to cross the line in fourth.

Mariya Kuchina sweetened victory for the Russians by winning the women's high jump, which had been moved indoors due to the rainy weather, with a personal best of 1.98 metres.

The bottom three countries, Belarus, Greece and Norway were relegated and will be replaced next year by the Czech Republic, Sweden and the Netherlands who were promoted from the first league.

(Reporting by Alison Wildey in London; Editing by Josh Reich)