RRW: Laura Muir takes European 1500m title by storm

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

MÜNICH (August 19) – With a wild move of around 25 meters before taking the bell, Britain’s Laura Muir overwhelmed the field here at the Olympic Stadium tonight and successfully defended her European athletics 1500m title. Muir, a Scot, ran the final lap in 60.4 seconds and won in 4:01.08. His victory tonight came just 12 days after winning the Commonwealth Games title over the same distance.

Laura Muir wins the women’s 1500m title against Ireland’s Ciara Mageean and Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui at the 2022 European Athletics Championships in Munich (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

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“Physically I’m not too bad, but mentally, oh my god, it was tough,” Muir told reporters. “I’m used to being tired, I’m used to training and racing, but that was something else.”

When Muir, 29, consulted with his trainer Andy Young before the race, they both agreed that his ability to jump onto the field late in the race was his greatest weapon. So she immediately dropped to the back of the twelve-woman field after the shot to save energy, then waited two laps before moving to the front. Irish Ciara Mageean followed her closely and Polish Sofia Ennaoui tried to stay close. Muir was just beginning his liquidation.

“Talking with Andy, we knew I could run the final lap faster than anyone else,” Muir explained. “So if I was tired, the best – safest – way to run was to do it.”

But Mageean wouldn’t give up so easily. She had planned exactly this kind of race.

“It’s fun to visualize different types of races, and in my 20-minute warm-up, that’s exactly what I visualized,” Mageean told Race Results Weekly. “Laura is probably going to go, and in my mind, she’s going to go a little earlier than the Commonwealth Games. she’s going to leave earlier, which she did. I thought to myself, you are his shadow.

Coming down the home stretch the penultimate time, Muir fired up the afterburners before he even got to the bell. Mageean reacts immediately and stays close, but Ennaoui is too far to catch up (she will have to settle for bronze in 4:03.59). Mageean was still close as she and Muir rounded the final corner, but Muir was just too fast.

“I thought coming up the home stretch maybe I was going to get her, but she’s just got a little bit more strength than me,” said Mageean, who set the season-best time in 4 :02.56. “Laura is a 3:55 runner and I’m not there yet.”

With her gold tonight, Muir has medaled at all three major championships this summer. At the World Athletics Championships in Eugene she won bronze in the 1500m, and at the Commonwealth Games she won the 1500m and bronze in the 800m.

“I really wanted to win; to get a medal at Worlds too, I’m so happy,” Muir said.

There was more success for the British team today in the 800m semi-final.

During the morning session, all the medal favorites qualified for the women’s 800m final, including the three Britons who ran today. In the first of two runs, Olympic and World Championship silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson took the win in 2:00.67 and confirmed her status as the gold medal favorite. She finished comfortably ahead of Poland’s Anna Wielgosz (2:01.05) and Ireland’s Louise Shanahan (2:01.15).

“I’m just very happy to have made it,” Hodgkinson told the British Athletics media team. “I’m tired, but I’m going race by race. I could have taken it, but the Pole set the tone, which definitely helped me, so I’m just glad I got the job done.

France’s Renelle Lamote narrowly won the second run ahead of Hodgkinson’s British teammate Jemma Reekie, 2:00.23 to 2:00.30. A third Briton, Alex Bell, finished third in 2:00.53 putting three Britons in the final.

“It’s great to see all three of us through,” said Bell, who finished sixth in the 800m at the Commonwealth Games. “I think even though I’ve been racing for so long, it’s only this season that racing stresses me out less when it gets loud and lumpy and trippy. In the past, I’ve panicked at this time, so I just conserve more energy, because the calmer you are, the more energy you save.

Much to the delight of the German fans in attendance, Christina Hering advanced on time to finish fourth in the second run in 2:00.86.

“WOW,” Hering wrote on his Instagram right after the race. “The local crowd gave me wings.”

In the men’s 800m semi-finals tonight, reigning 1500m world champion Jake Wightman qualified for the final by moving from fifth to second in the final stretch of the second run, stopping the clock in 1:46.61. The Scot finished behind Spaniard Mariano Garcia (1:46.52) and just ahead of Irishman Mark English whom Wightman overtook in the last 20 metres.

Although he reached the final, Wightman was unhappy with his performance.

“I didn’t run well there,” he told the British Athletics media team. “I think the only thing I take away from it is that I have to be pretty fit because tactically I was all over the place but I still managed to get through. Hopefully I don’t get not the first lane in the final because I didn’t run too well from there.

The first run was slow and Poland’s Patryk Dobek (2021 Olympic bronze medalist) only managed to finish fourth in the final sprint and did not reach the final. Instead, Swede Andreas Kramer (1:48.37), Italian Simone Barontini (1:48.51) and Frenchman Benjamin Robert (same time as Barontini). Passed to the final. Kramer executed a deft move in the final 50 yards, crossing the center of the pitch to claim victory.

“I just waited for it, because I didn’t want to bother anyone,” Kramer told Race Results Weekly. “I just kicked and waited for the small opening. Then when it happened, I started. »

In tonight’s other medal event in the distance disciplines, Finland’s Topi Raitanen fended off a triple attack by Italian twins Osama and Ala Zoghlami and teammate Ahmed Abdelwahed. Raitanen, 26, helped set the early pace and then allowed the Italians to lead the final laps before they bid for victory.

“My strategy was to keep a decent pace, and everyone’s happy and nobody wants to push harder, so I saved some energy for the final laps,” Raitanen told Race Results Weekly. “The Italians, really strong guys, started picking up the pace and I just knew I had to follow them and keep up with the pace, and wait for the last lap for everything to be possible.”

Going down the straight on the final lap, Raitanen took the lead and then cautiously took the final jump of water. He began to feel that the victory would be his.

“After the last water jump I saw a small gap behind me and I can really take the medal,” he said. “I was just taking it very, really carefully and not falling. A few meters later I was looking at the screen and I still had a small gap behind me and I know I can win.

Raitanen crossed the finish line in 8:21.80 and became only the second Finn to win the European title (Jukka Keskisalo did it in Gothenburg in 2006). His victory is significant in a country with a rich steeplechase tradition: Finnish men won four consecutive Olympic steeplechase titles from 1924 to 1936, and Tapio Kantanen won the Olympic bronze medal here in Munich in 1972.

“It’s huge, of course,” Raitanen said when asked about the significance of his home win in Finland. “I know this stadium has been one of the best for the Finns. It’s been many years since the last runner finished first in this stadium. I’m really happy to be…one of the guys who won here, and I hope young Finnish riders will see this race and give them motivation for the sport and push themselves.

Abdelwahed took silver in 8:22.35 and Osama Zoghlami took bronze in 8:23.44 (his brother Ala was seventh).

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