Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson retained her 800m title in style at the European Indoor Championships and dedicated her victory to her late former coach.
The 21-year-old left the field in her wake in Istanbul to take gold in one minute 58.66 seconds, almost two seconds ahead of second-placed Anita Horvat of Slovenia, and later revealed she had done so while still coming to the terms with the sudden death of Joe Galvin.
Hodgkinson said: “The easiest and smoothest way was just to run hard from the front. That is what I wanted to do. I wanted the others to work hard for it if they were going to be anywhere near me. I am really happy defending my title. I couldn’t ask for any more really.
“Every race and every championship is a different experience, at the moment it is anyway, because this is still only my second European Indoors. I just hope to keep building on this, keep performing, keep bringing back medals. That is where I want to be, that is what I want to do so I am living the dream.
“I have not had time to process it, but my coach passed away a few days ago and it was really unexpected, so this one is definitely for him.
“He had a lot of belief in a little 10-year old me, so that medal is for him and everyone at home. I hope to make him really proud, and I hope he is up there watching, and his wife Margaret, who I know will be so proud of me as well.”
If Hodgkinson’s success was expected – she went into the final with a season’s best more than three seconds quicker than any of her rivals – team captain Jazmin Sawyers’ triumph in the long jump came as something of a surprise.
Sawyers was sitting in fourth place with a jump of 6.76m heading into the fifth round, but leapt into the lead at 7.00m – a world lead, British indoor record and a personal best – and then watched as Serbia’s Ivana Vuleta and Italian Larissa Iapichino failed to overhaul her.
She said: “It feels like it really, really has been a long time coming. I’ve never won anything. I am still in shock.
“I feel like the seven-metre jump has been in me for so long. I have been waiting for this seven metres to come out forever. It has been so many years that for a bit you think, ‘Is it going to come?’.
Sunday’s double success took Great Britain’s medal haul to three goals – Laura Muir won the 1500m title on Saturday – one silver and two bronze to leave them in third place in the final medal table behind Norway and the Netherlands.