This is the third piece by Stuart Weir on the null day of the European Indoor Champs, held on 2 March. Day one is really Day 0 in Istanbul. Here is how Stuart Weir felt about the British performances.
Day zero was an excellent one for team GB with all our athletes progressing.
In the women’s 800 prelims, Keely Hodgkinson and Izzy Boffey won their races
Isabel Boffey wins 800m, photo by Getty Images /British Athletics
Issy Boffey, coached by Luke Gunn, husband of Hannah England, who was calling the race, finished in 2:03.24, commenting: “I’m learning how to do the big races and I’ve got a lot better at that this year so it’s just sort of repeating what I’ve done this season and getting the auto-Q and I’ve done it!”
Keely Hodgkinson wins heat 1, leads with the fastest time in all heats, photo by Getty Images for European Athletics
Defending champion, Keely Hodgkinson, was the fastest qualifier (2:01.67) said: “I love being at a championship it’s my favorite thing to do it’s what I train for, to me being an athlete is about bringing home medals. That’s what we are here to do and I think we can come away with a GB 1-2”.
Guy Learmouth, photo by Getty Images for European Athletics
In the men’s 800 Guy Learmonth had to sweat before it was confirmed that he got one of the time places after finishing third with two automatic qualifiers said: “I let my guard down. I’ve front run a lot of races this year and I know I can do that and hold my own. It’s different doing it at this stage but I feel like I am strong enough and experienced enough to do that now so yeah, semi-final – I will chat to my coach and we’ll come up with the best plan to qualify. I want to take a medal home. Everyone knows it’s my fifth games and that’s not how I wanted to start this campaign but it’s irrelevant now, I’m through to the semi and we’ll just make sure I qualify outright into the final”.
George Mills made it to the semi-finals in the 1,500m, photo by Getty Images for European Athletics
In the men’s M1500 Neil Gourley won his race and George Mills was third and both made the final. Mills said: “I was expecting our heat to be quick, I expected some of the other guys to maybe try and make it a quick pace because maybe they might not fancy themselves against us, but it was pedestrian, to say the least! I think we were like 2:45 for 1k so I was like ‘ this isn’t right’ and thought I would hit the front and just ramp it up and whittle it down to three people coming into the straight and it played out alright”.
Neil Gourley, TORUN, POLAND – MARCH 04: Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway (R) leads his group through their heat when competing in Men’s 1500 metres during the European Athletics Indoor Championships at Torun Arena on March 04, 2021, in Torun, Poland. . (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for European Athletics)
Gourley said: “It felt controlled. I’m happy with the way I handled it. It’s important (to be in good shape this season) but everyone is lining up on that same line tomorrow regardless of what we’ve done over the past 4/5 weeks. But it’s important to me to be in that kind of physical condition heading into this. This is the focus of the indoor season tomorrow night and we’re going to pour everything into it to challenge for the win tomorrow.
“You saw what Jakob did in his heat, the middle heat was a bit of a roller derby and this one was a bit more smooth, so we don’t know much (of what people are bringing) we’ll find out tomorrow as the business end of this weekend!”
In the women’s 3000, Hannah Nuttall third, and Melissa Courtney-Bryant fourth both qualified comfortably. Nuttall said: “That was really good. I just wanted to put myself up there at the start of the race, put myself up in 3rd or 4th, and then I just wanted to cover everything to make sure I was in those top six positions. It went to plan, and I’m really happy with it, I did what I needed to do to get through. Getting the heats done is really nice but the final’s where the fun’s at!”
A close 3,000 meters, with photo by Getty Images/BritishAthletics
Melissa Courtney-Bryant said: “It was very messy but I kind of enjoyed it in a way. It’s nice to be back to championship racing, you’ve really got to keep your brain switched on in that scenario – there are a lot of girls who can run 8:45 and quicker and you need to be on your toes and that’s what I felt like I did today. I wanted to be top 6, do as little as I could, but yeah it was very, very pushy”.
Morgan Lake, HJ, Instanbul 2023, photo by Getty Images for European Athletics
Morgan Lake had just jumped 1.91 when the high jump qualified was ended. She assessed her work: “The objective was to get to the final – I did that! I made it a little bit harder for myself getting a third attempt clutch jump! But I think the way I executed that jump shows me how much more I’ve got for the final. The track is quick, it took a few goes to work out where I was on the track but now I can take that confidence into the final with me.
“In high jump it is so important to get first attempts, I came eighth in that qualifying and we all jumped the same height, the difference between first and eighth comes down to what attempt you do it in, so taking that into the next competition – first attempts as much as I can and to keep confident”.