Norway’s Filip Ingebrigtsen would not have expected to be punching the air, smiling for the cameras, posing with his muscles clenched after the first round of the 1500m at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships.
Those celebrations are normally reserved for the aftermath of a final. But that was the scenario which played out early this afternoon as he made it home in third from the second heat after a dramatic race which saw him fall with just 700 metres left.
The reaction at the finish was all about the relief of making it through, crossing the line after making a surge up in the inside lane to finish in 3:40.88 as Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski won in 3:40.74 and Great Britain’s Charlie Da’Vall Grice took second in 3:40.80.
But having sat near the back of the field as they entered the penultimate lap, it was not long before Ingebrigtsen found himself on the floor as bunching saw three runners fall in front of him, leaving him no way of escaping the tumble.
Luckily for him, the lead group was not too far away – and not running at a particularly fast pace – by the time he picked himself, surging his way back into fourth by the bell and making sure the defence of his crown did not end here.
It was always going to be a memorable occasion for the Ingebrigtsen family, being the first time all three brothers – Henrik, Filip and Jakob – had run together at a major championship and one of them really did not want it to end in despair.
But it was the youngest of them all, 17-year-old Jakob, who looked the more confident of them all as he followed Filip’s race and ran impressively, leading at the bell and qualifying in second in 3:40.81 behind Britain’s Jake Wightman in 3:40.73.
Jakob is not 18 until 19 September and the European U20 3000m steeplechase and 5000m champion has created another landmark by now becoming the youngest male athlete ever to qualify for a track final in European Championships history.
“It’s all about training, working really hard and this is what we are training for,” said Jakob as he looked ahead to Friday night’s final with his brothers.
Henrik, the 2012 European champion, made it though after finishing third in the first heat, where the last lap was run in 52.52. In a frenetic finish, he ran 3:49.28 behind Britain’s Chris O’Hare, who won in 3:49.06, with Germany’s Homiyu Tesfaye second in 3:49.28. But the closing pace was too hot for Czech star Jakub Holusa who was fifth in 3:49.82. He did not progress.
The first women’s event of the day was the opening round of the 100m hurdles and though the leading stars of the event had an automatic berth into tomorrow’s semifinals, one name really made an impression.
A year on from winning European U20 gold, France’s Solene Ndama, 19, took herself into a new sphere as she broke 13 seconds for the first time to be the quickest qualifier from the three heats.
When she won gold in Grosseto, she triumphed in 13.15 and Ndama arrived here with a personal best from the summer of 13.01. That stands at 12.88 now as she soared away from the field in heat two with Greece’s Elisavet Pesiridou second in 13.10 and Hungary’s Greta Kerekes third in 13.23.
It was a good morning for France as Ndama’s teammate Rouguy Diallo broke her triple jump PB of 14.27m to reach the final with 14.31m, as she shared top spot in qualifying with Germany’s European indoor champion Kristin Gierisch.
Britain’s Naomi Ogbeta made it through with a national U23 record of 14.15m but Ukrainian veteran Olha Saladukha did not make it through, reaching a best of 14.04m to miss out.
In the opening round of the men’s 200m, Italy’s Eseosa Desalu was the fastest to progress in 20.39. In the women’s 400m, Great Britain’s Laviai Nielsen, in 51.67, and Belgium’s Cynthia Bolingo Mbongo, in 51.69, both broke their lifetime bests in winning their respective heats.