Hodgkinson defends European title despite illness

European Athletics Championships 2024: Keely Hodgkinson wins 800m gold

Harry Poole
BBC Sport journalist

2 hours agoComments

Keely Hodgkinson defended her European 800m title with a dominant victory despite struggling with illness, as Great Britain also won women’s 4x100m relay gold on the final night of action in Rome.

Hodgkinson, 22, led throughout and held off her rivals in the closing stages to win in one minute 58.65 seconds.

However, following her victory the Olympic and two-time world silver medallist revealed she had become unwell a day earlier.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to find a way to win,” Hodgkinson told BBC Sport.

“I wanted to go out and get a good time today but I’m happy with the win. I think I would have been disappointed if I didn’t try.”

In a golden conclusion to the six-day championships for the British team, the women’s 4x100m relay quartet featuring Dina Asher-Smith, Desiree Henry, Amy Hunt and Daryll Neita also triumphed.

Led off by 100m champion Asher-Smith and brought home by 200m silver medallist Neita, they took victory in 41.91secs, ahead of France and the Netherlands.

Asher-Smith told BBC Sport: “That felt amazing, we are definitely trying new things before the Olympic Games. Obviously, we are looking to absolutely do amazing in Paris.”

Neita said: “To finish the championships with a gold medal with these amazing ladies, it’s just an incredible feeling, really electric and I really have a good feeling going into Paris.”

Those golds helped the British team finish third in the medal table, with four golds and 13 medals in total, as hosts Italy topped the final standings ahead of France.

Also at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday, there were golds for Sweden’s pole vault world record-holder Armand Duplantis and Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, as Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs and Dutch star Femke Bol shone for their relay teams.

European Athletics Championships: Great Britain win women’s 4x100m relay gold

Hodgkinson ‘ready for huge opportunity’ in Paris

This was Hodgkinson’s second major title following success in Munich two years ago and comes before she targets a first global title at Paris 2024.

With both a personal best and season’s best time more than three seconds faster than anyone else in the final, she could hardly have lined up as a stronger favourite to defend her European crown.

While she did not win by the margin perhaps expected – having run a world-leading time of 1:55.78 to beat world champion Mary Moraa in Eugene this year – Hodgkinson always appeared in control as she collected the eighth major medal of an already stunning senior career, which only started in 2021.

The supremely talented Briton has been pushing the world’s best since contesting her first major championships at the Tokyo Olympics.

Following that stunning breakthrough silver at those Games three years ago and successive world silvers since, Hodgkinson’s eyes are now fixed on gold in Paris, where she is once again expected to battle Moraa and American Olympic champion Athing Mu for global supremacy.

“I’m super excited for Paris. The next seven weeks are going to be incredible,” Hodgkinson said.

“I do believe in the power of manifestation, so it’s obviously something I think about. The Olympic Games are so special, it’s a huge opportunity to change your life and I’m just ready to go for it.”

Slovakia’s Gabriela Gajanova took silver in 1:58.79 and France’s Anais Bourgoin was third in 1:59.30.

European Athletics Championships: Keely Hodgkinson says she ran final despite being ill

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Duplantis and Ingebrigtsen add to gold medal hauls

Duplantis hoped to produce a grand finale in Rome as all eyes were fixed on his world record attempts after the 24-year-old had already safely secured a third successive European title.

As the only athlete to clear 5.92m, Duplantis registered a first-time clearance at 5.97m, and again at 6.10m to win the ‘Golden Crown’ – awarded to those who produced standout performances in the Italian capital, along with 50,000 euros (£42,000).

With the prize money secure, the bar was lifted to 6.25m as Duplantis took his latest three attempts at breaking the world record for a ninth time, but it was not to be on this occasion.

Ingebrigtsen

The 23-year-old is the reigning Olympic champion over 1500m and is preparing for an expected gold-medal showdown with Britain’s world champion Josh Kerr in Paris in eight weeks’ time.

He was allowed to control the pace before bursting clear to win his 11th European track title both indoors and outdoors in a championship record 3:31.95.

Britain’s European silver medallist Neil Gourley followed Ingebrigtsen closely until the closing stages but faded to finish ninth in 3:34.11, while team-mate Adam Fogg was 12th in 3:34.44.

European Athletics Championships 2024: Ingebrigtsen wins gold in championship record

Olympic 100m champion Jacobs helped the host nation secure the final gold medal on the track as Italy’s men’s 4x100m relay quartet took gold in 37.82, ahead of the Netherlands and Germany.

Bol sealed women’s 4x400m relay gold for the Netherlands in 3:22.39 to add to her individual 400m hurdles victory, as Ireland clinched silver in a national record 3:22.71 ahead of Belgium.

The British men’s 4x400m quartet featuring Toby Harries, Michael Ohioze, Lewis Davey and Alex Haydock-Wilson finished seventh in a time of 3:01.89, as Belgium took gold.

Britain’s Patrick Dever led for much of the men’s 10,000m final but faded on the final lap to finish sixth in 28:04.43, as Switzerland’s Dominic Lobalu won in 28:00.32.

Zakariya Mahamed was 17th in 28:25.31, and fellow Briton Rory Leonard placed 19th in 28:33.66.

European Athletics Championships: Ireland win silver as Bol cruises for

Final European Athletics Championships medal table

Italy end the championships top of the medal table as Great Britain finish third behind France

Great Britain’s medallists at the European Athletics Championships

Gold [4] – Keely Hodgkinson (women’s 800m), Dina Asher-Smith (women’s 100m), women’s 4x100m relay, women’s half marathon team

Silver [4] – Daryll Neita (women’s 200m) Charlie Dobson (men’s 400m), George Mills (men’s 5000m), Georgia Bell (women’s 1500m)

Bronze [5] – Molly Caudery (women’s pole vault), Megan Keith (women’s 10,000m), Lizzie Bird (women’s 3000m steeplechase), Romell Glave (men’s 100m), Calli Hauger-Thackery (women’s half marathon)

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