Amy-Eloise Markovc & Keely Hodgkinson strike gold
Young team excels in European Indoor Championships in Poland
GB athletes equalled their previous best-ever haul of 12 medals from Glasgow 2019 at the 36th European Athletics Indoor Championships held in Toruń, Poland from 4-7 March. Our reporter's runABC preview of the events stated that Glasgow: “would be a fine benchmark”. Thanks to a lucrative final day in Arena Toruń (pictured) this excellent total was achieved.
Two gold, four silver and six bronze was the final tally – the most precious metal secured by any nation – although Britain ranked third on the medal table behind Netherlands (four gold) and Portugal (three gold). Head Coach Christian Malcolm will be buoyed by the fact that the young team secured more medals than any other nation, despite the absence of a few GB stars.
The first British gold came from an unexpected source. The previously unheralded US-based Amy-Eloise Markovc (Wakefield) cruised through to the 3000m final, where she chopped 8 seconds off her PB as she boldly hit the front for gold in 8:46.43, a fraction ahead of Alice Finot (France) and GB teammate Verity Ockenden (Swansea, 8:46.60 PB). Amelia Quirk (Bracknell, 8:48.82 PB) was fifth, after helping set the pace throughout the race.
Women's middle-distance running is in a good place at present. Keely Hodgkinson (Leigh) is only 19 but was fastest on paper for the 800m, after setting a world junior record (1:59.03) last month. She wore the favourite's mantle comfortably to control the final for GB's second gold in a slow, tactical race (2:03.88). Ellie Baker (Shaftesbury Barnet, 4th 2:04.40) and Isabelle Boffey (Enfield & Haringey, 6th 2:07.26) also excelled to make the final.
Holly Archer (Cambridge & Coleridge) won her 1500m heat (4:09.77 PB) but had a distinctly bumpy ride in a scrappy final. She finished second (4:19.91) and was initially disqualified before being reinstated to a deserved silver medal – awarded a day late due to the judges' deliberations. Katie Snowden (Herne Hill, 4:21.81) was sixth in the final.
In contrast, the men fared less well in the distance races. Jamie Webb (Liverpool) was the pre-race favourite in the 800m after British record holder Elliot Giles (Birchfield) had withdrawn. With three races in three days to reach the final, he had to settle for bronze (1:46.95) after a faster semi-final (1:45.99).
Andrew Butchart (Central) and Jack Rowe (Aldershot) both made the 3000m final after Marc Scott (Cambridge & Coleridge) withdrew from the team. Butchart (7th, 7:52.15) won the battle of the Brits as Rowe (9th, 7:53.47) was rewarded with a season's best.
The relays are always an exciting finale of any championships and Toruń was no exception. Both GB teams medalled, with the women's 4x400m silver (3:28.20) again trumping the men's bronze (3:06.70).
Full results at European Athletics here
Image: GB medal winners courtesy British Athletics on Facebook