Keely Hodgkinson lands elusive gold by storming to European 800m glory
Keely Hodgkinson finally struck gold as she cruised to victory in the 800 metres final at the European Championships.
After claiming silver at the Tokyo Olympics, Hodgkinson was runner-up again to American Athing Mu in the World Championships, by just by 0.08 seconds, before finishing second to Kenya’s Mary Moraa at the Commonwealth Games earlier this month.
There was, though, no stopping the 20-year-old in Munich on Saturday night as she pulled away over the closing 200m to win in one minute 59.04secs, ahead of Frenchwoman Renelle Lamote.
Poland’s Anna Wielgosz finished strongly to take bronze as Jemma Reekie faded, finishing fifth, with Alexandra Bell in sixth.
“I think you can tell I was very happy to come here and finally get on top of the podium,” Hodgkinson told BBC Sport.
“There is a great team around me, they have helped me all season. It has been a hard year mentally, but we made it to the end.
“Trying to get that gold definitely helped. It is just about trying to forget and move on from it. Now I can go home with three medals, I couldn’t be happier.”
Hodgkinson added: “I still have a world indoor medal (to win) that I don’t have yet and I still have a lot of silvers, so we are going to try and get some golds. I have still got a long way to go.”
Great Britain’s men followed up with a composed display under pressure to take the 4x400m relay title ahead of Belgium and France.
Matthew Hudson-Smith, Charlie Dobson, Lewis Davey and Alex Haydock-Wilson led from the front to finish in a season’a best 2:59.35, holding off a late charge from Belgium down the home straight.
Hudson-Smith, who had won the individual 400m gold, said on BBC Sport: “This one feels a lot better and sweeter because we have got a team and our reserves. It is just amazing.
“We have got such a great support system, family and friends. Without them I would not be here.
“These guys next to me are the future, the 4×4 guys are back and are ready to take over.”
The women’s team of Victoria Ohuruogu, Ama Pipi, Jodie Williams and Nicole Yeargin battled to bronze in 3:21.74 as Femke Bol drove the Netherlands on to gold, her third of the Games, with Poland just taking silver on the line.
Earlier, Jessica Hunter won her heat of the women’s 100m hurdles in 13.27 to qualify for Sunday’s semi-final.
Swedish pole vault world record holder Mondo Duplantis set a new championship record of 6.06m as he won gold.
In the final track event of Saturday’s evening action at the Olympiastadion, Elizabeth Bird claimed bronze in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase final which was won by Albania’s Luiza Gega ahead of German Lea Meyer. Britain’s Aimee Pratt finished seventh.
Earlier in the Olympiahalle, all-round champion Joe Fraser helped Britain win the team gymnastics gold.
Fraser, who had overcome fitness issues to claim three golds at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, his home city, led a superb collective performance from the British quartet as James Hall, Jake Jarman, Courtney Tulloch and Giarnni Regini-Moran delivered with a total score of 254.295.
Britain finished ahead of Italy (247.494), while Turkey (246.162) took bronze following the six rotations of floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar.
It was a first all-round European title for Great Britain since 2012.
Fraser, 23, paid tribute to the combined efforts of the squad.
“The way we pulled together today really showed our character,” Fraser told BBC Sport.
Britain will also have interest in the individual finals on Sunday.
Fraser qualified in the pommel horse and parallel bars while Regini-Moran competes on the floor, vault and parallel bars.
Tulloch (vault and rings), Hall (high bar) and Jarman (floor) will also return to action at the Olympiahalle.