Cold comfort for Keely Hodgkinson in successful Euro title defence – AW

    British 800m star triumphs in Rome despite a mild illness on a night that also sees endurance victories for Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Dominic Lobalu

    Keely Hodgkinson’s successful defence of her European 800m crown on Wednesday (June 12) in Rome was nothing to be sniffed at. After making a last-minute choice to race despite feeling under the weather with a head cold, the 22-year-old’s decision paid off as she clocked 1:58.65 to win gold.

    With rumours swirling around the Stadio Olimpico all evening that she might not run, Hodgkinson decided “10 minutes before going into the call room” to take her place in the final. “I do believe in myself,” she said, “and I thought the best way, the easiest way and the safest way to do it was to go to the front and control it and I backed my strength and speed to deliver the gold.”

    She did exactly that, leading through 400m in 58.55, controlling the pace from the front, kicking into the home straight and then holding off a plucky late challenge from Gabriela Gajanová of the Slovak Republic.

    “I wasn’t expecting to win and it was my dream to simply win a medal because I have a lot of respect for Keely because she’s an amazing athlete,” Gajanová told AW.

    Keely Hodgkinson (Getty)

    With a PB that was more than three seconds quicker than any of her rivals, Hodgkinson was one of the hottest favourites at these European Championships. Racing with a cold, though, evened the odds a bit.

    Hodgkinson said if she had been training instead of racing then she may still have run with the head cold but probably not hard. Now she plans to take a couple of days off before building back for the UK Championships in a fortnight’s time in Manchester.

    Jakob Ingebrigtsen leads Neil Gourley and Ossama Meslek (Getty)

    Ingebrigtsen hits them for six

    Jakob Ingebrigtsen was a class apart in the men’s 1500m as he won a record sixth gold medal at the European Championships. With a ‘triple double’ of 1500m and 5000m victories, the 23-year-old from Norway is the most successful male athlete in the 90-year history of these championships.

    Controlling the race from the front in the last couple of laps before easing away from his rivals effortlessly in the final 120 metres, Ingebrigtsen came home in a championship record of 3:31.95 to add to his 5000m triumph from earlier in the week.

    His closest rival, Jochem Vermuelen of Belgium, was well over a second behind in 3:33.30. In the scrap for minor medals, Pietro Arese of Italy took bronze in 3:33.34.

    Britain’s Neil Gourley, who spent most of the last circuit in Ingebrigtsen’s slipstream, faded in the home straight to ninth in 3:34.11, his lack of training in the winter perhaps catching up with him.

    “It felt tough from the start, which is odd,” said Gourley. “But I don’t want to make excuses. I just didn’t feel great today and that’s all there was to it. I didn’t have a gear in the last hundred metres it wasn’t that fast.

    Jakob Ingebrigtsen (Getty)

    “Tactically I got it right but it doesn’t matter if you are where you want to be if you don’t have some pop to capitalize on it.”

    GB team-mate Adam Fogg was 12th in 3:34.44 and despite his placing he still managed to put some decent athletes behind him including Irish record-holder Andrew Coscoran and British-based Italian Ossama Meslek, such was the quality of the field.

    “I’ll get ready for British Champs now,” said Fogg. “It’s going to be a dogfight there. I’m up against some of the best guys in the world but I feel race by race I am getting closer.”

    Dominic Lobalu (Getty)

    Lobalu sprints to glory in the 10,000m

    Few athletes will have endured a rockier road to the top of a European Championships podium than 10,000m winner Dominic Lobalu. At the age of eight he fled South Sudan as a refugee – with both his parents killed in the civil war there – and moved to an orphanage in Kenya before later moving to Switzerland, who he now represents.

    At the start of these championships in Rome he won bronze in the 5000m, but on Wednesday (June 12) he took gold over 25 laps in 28:00.32.

    In a final lap burn-up Lobalu out-kicked Yann Schrub, the European cross-country champion from France (28:00.48), Thierry Ndikumwenaya of Spain (28:00.96), Andreas Almgren of Sweden (28:01.16) and Jimmy Gressier of France (28:01.42).

    After doing lots of the work at the front, in the early stages of the race to keep the pace ticking along and also toward the end with an effort to break up the leading contenders, Patrick Dever of Britain was slightly disappointed to finish sixth in 28:04.43.

    Dominic Lobalu and Patrick Dever (Getty)

    GB team-mates Zak Mahamed and Rory Leonard finished 17th and 19th respectively in 28:25.31 and 28:33.66.

    “I feel like I ran a bit naively,” said Dever, “and I think I used too much energy running at the front early on. We were going really slow, so I think I was just trying to get it moving. I think I should just trust myself a little bit more even if the pace is slow. I did give it a good go in the end, but I am a bit disappointed.”

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