Golden double for Nadia Battocletti as Megan Keith earns 10,000m bronze – AW

    Italian is unbeatable in 25-lap European final but there are mixed fortunes for the trio of British women in Rome

    Breaking away from her rivals with 600m to go and storming to a national 10,000m record of 30:51.32, Nadia Battocletti became the first Italian woman to win two golds at the European Championships.

    Four days earlier she won the 5000m in similarly emphatic style. Here, on Wednesday (June 11) in the Stadio Olimpico, she enjoyed another victory, this time in front of the Italian president. “Doppio oro!” roared the crowd.

    Behind, there were mixed fortunes for the three British runners. Diane van Es of the Netherlands was runner-up in 30:57.24 with Britain’s Megan Keith delighted with bronze in 30:04.77. But Eilish McColgan, on the comeback trail from injury, dropped out at 6km shortly after losing contact with the leaders. Jess Warner-Judd, meanwhile, did not finish after collapsing with 600m to go amid fears she had suffered a similar seizure to one she had racing 10,000m in California in March. UK Athletics said late on Wednesday night that she was being assessed by their medical team.

    Keith said she felt like the race played out as a “calm in the eye of the storm” due to the Italian crowd willing high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi to gold. For the spectators, though, it was anything but calm but instead mildly chaotic as a large field of 33 runners resulted in multiple athletes being lapped by the medallists in the closing stages.

    “It was a really tough race,” said Battocletti, 24, who negotiated the traffic better than anyone as she eased to victory. “There were a lot of girls and this was a problem during the last lap. For that reason I started to go faster with about 600m to go. After talking with my father he said ‘go faster earlier!’”

    Nadia Battocletti (Getty)

    Racing 10,000m in Rome was not in Battocletti’s plans originally but she felt it was a good opportunity to make her mark in front of her home crowd. “I’m really tired now but I’m so happy,” she told AW.

    Keith was also satisfied. “I was tempted to go harder and go for gold but didn’t want to blow up and jeopardise a medal,” she said. “My agent and coach know that I don’t do things by halves and they know I run to win. But they didn’t want me to run so hard that I would lose a medal entirely.”

    Megan Keith (Getty)

    At her best, McColgan would have been challenging for gold but after an injury-hit 2023 she was not at her best. “I knew I’d be asking a lot coming into the champs with the lack of training I’ve had,” she said, “but the last few weeks have been really good and I thought I’d stepped up and felt I could get maybe something like fifth place or even battle for medals. But to have to drop out is pretty disappointing.”

    Similar to the 5000m, where Karoline Grovdal of Norway set a hard pace, a similar pattern emerged here with Klara Lukan, the up-and-coming 23-year-old from Slovenia, going to the front to set a fast tempo.

    Klara Lukan leads (Getty)

    Lukan’s first-ever 10,000m was at the Night of the 10,000m PBs in London last month, where she finished fourth in a race won by Keith. “I have more endurance than speed,” she told AW, “so I wanted to set a hard pace.”

    Lukan led Battocletti, Van Es, Keith, Federica Del Buono of Italy and McColgan through halfway in 15:28.50 with Warner-Judd having got detached as she went through in 15:40.12.

    Soon after McColgan stepped out of the race, Battocletti went to the front and began to press the pace further. Keith, meanwhile, had been running patiently back in fourth or fifth place but with just over 2000m to go the Scottish athlete went to the front and only Battocletti and Van Es were still with her at this stage.

    Nadia Battocletti (Getty)

    As the three leaders began passing lapped runners, confusion reigned a little. Some of the lapped athletes began to run at the same pace as the trio who had just passed them, too.

    But no one could stay with Battocletti when she took off with a lap and a half to go. Her surge was decisive as she created a sizeable gap straight away and the final circuit effectively turned into a victory lap as the crowd found they had yet another gold medal to cheer at these championships.

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