European Championships Munich 2022: Keely Hodgkinson qualifies for 800m final as Great Britain’s relay teams progress

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Keely Hodgkinson
Keely Hodgkinson won European indoor 800m gold as a teenager in 2021

Keely Hodgkinson qualified for the women’s 800m final at the European Championships as Great Britain’s relay teams all safely progressed in Munich.

Olympic, world and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Hodgkinson, 20, clocked two minutes 00.67 seconds to win her semi-final on Friday.

She will be joined by Alex Bell, Jemma Reekie and Ireland’s Louise Shanahan in Saturday’s eight-athlete final.

In the relay heats, all four of Britain’s teams reached their finals.

Both the men’s and women’s 4x100m teams are the defending European champions and both comfortably qualified for Sunday night’s final by winning their respective heats.

Meanwhile, in the 4x400m relay heats, Britain’s women’s team, which won World Championship bronze in Eugene, qualified fastest for the final, while the men’s quartet – which did not include rested 400m champion Matt Hudson-Smith – placed third to qualify automatically.

Ireland’s women’s 4x400m team featuring Sophie Becker, Phil Healy, Rhasidat Adeleke and Sharlene Mawdsley set a new national record of 3:26.06 as they finished second in their heat, behind the Netherlands.

Elsewhere, Morgan Lake qualified for the final of the women’s high jump with a clearance over 1.87m – however Laura Zialor was unable to register a mark.

Hodgkinson in control as Reekie ‘rewarded for patience’

One of the favourites for the women’s 800m title, Hodgkinson looked relaxed as she ran a controlled race to comfortably win her semi-final.

Left “fuming” after being denied gold by Kenya’s Mary Moraa at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham two weeks ago – having lost out to American Olympic champion Athing Mu by 0.008 seconds at the worlds in Eugene in July – Hodgkinson moved clear of the field in the closing 100m to avoid any late trouble.

Ireland’s Shanahan crossed the line in third in 2:01.15 to also clinch an automatic qualification place, before Reekie, 24, found space on the inside to cross the line second behind France’s Renelle Lamote in 2:00.30 in a closely contested second race, followed by team-mate Bell in 2:00.53.

“I just wanted to make sure I got through using as little energy as possible,” said Hodgkinson, who admitted to feeling fatigued following Thursday’s heat.

“It was all about controlling, saving energy and getting through. Every championship is different and every round is different. You never know what’s going to come so I’m just happy to make the final.”

Britain’s former 800m world and European medallist Jenny Meadows said on BBC TV: “Keely looked great. I don’t think she got out of third gear. It’s a nice qualification for her and it will have done her good.”

On Reekie, Meadows added: “She was rewarded for being patient. You have to be patient and not panic. She showed real strength. I think she’ll get a medal.”

No concerns for Britain’s relay teams

Asha Phili, Imani Lansiquot, Bianca Williams and Ashleigh Nelson
Only Spain also managed to finish in under 43 seconds as Britain posted the fastest time in the women’s 4x100m heats

Asha Philip returned to action after a positive test for Covid-19 ruled her out of the 100m to help team-mates Imani Lansiquot, Bianca Williams and Ashleigh Nelson clock an unbeaten 42.83secs in women’s 4x100m qualifying.

Britain’s men’s quartet, featuring European 100m bronze medallist Jeremiah Azu, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, Jona Efoloko and Tommy Ramdhan, clocked 38.41secs to finish clear of the Netherlands and qualify third fastest.

Hosts Germany set a new national record of 37.97secs to beat France (38.17) in heat two. Despite placing fifth, Olympic champions Italy thought they had progressed as a non-automatic qualifier.

However, Turkey were allowed to return to run again after being impeded by the Finnish team – and ran a solo 38.98secs to beat Italy’s time by 0.04secs and take their final place.

In the women’s 4x400m, Zoey Clark, Ama Pipi, Nicole Yeargin and Laviai Nielsen finished ahead of Belgium and defending champions Poland as Britain, world bronze medallists, won their heat in 3:23.79.

“We’re coming into this as world medallists so we know we’re the team to chase,” said Nielsen. “We are a confident team, We have such strength, we did the job and we’ll bring more tomorrow.”

Alex Haydock-Wilson, men’s 400m bronze medallist, secured Britain’s place in Saturday’s men’s 4x400m relay final following legs by Joseph Brier, Rio Mitcham and Lewis Davey.

They clocked 3:02.36 to place third behind the Czech Republic and France, but will be bolstered by the return of Hudson-Smith for the final.

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