Norway’s insurgent 17 year-old, Jacob Ingebrigtsen, showed no respect to his elders at Olympic Stadium here tonight –including his two older brothers– winning the European Athletics Championships 1500m title in 3:38.10 with a solid 53.64-second closing lap.
His brothers Henrik (the 2012 champion), and Filip (the 2016 winner), finished fourth and 12th, respectively. Not surprisingly, Ingebrigtsen is now the youngest-ever man to win a European title in any discipline.
“Jacob won it?” asked bronze medalist Jake Wightman of Great Britain as he spoke to reporters after the race. “I didn’t even know that.”
Leading at the 800m mark in 2:01.12, Jakob Ingebrigtsen timed his race perfectly. He didn’t push the pace too soon, running just slightly behind Britain’s Charlie Grice at the bell (2:44.42). Ingebrigtsen eased into the lead through the 1200m mark, and simply remained there until the finish as the other 12 men gave chase. Just before crossing the line, he turned to his right just to make sure he wasn’t going to get caught.
Behind him, Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski mounted a huge attack in the homestretch, passing Wightman within the last two meters to get the silver medal in 3:38.14 to Wightman’s 3:38.25. Wightman never saw him coming.
“That’s the skill,” Wightman marveled. “He’s the predator.”
While happy for his younger brother, Henrik Ingebrigtsen was downcast about his own race. He said he was he had prepared well for these championships and hoped for a medal, which he could still earn in tomorrow’s 5000m.
“I’m pissed that I got boxed in,” Henrik Ingebrigtsen told Race Results Weekly. “I was really fit enough to get a medal today.”
In the women’s 800m final, Ukraine’s Nataliya Pryshchepa successfully defended her title from Amsterdam two years ago in a modest 2:00.38, just 24/100ths of a second ahead of France’s Renelle Lamote. Pryshchepa’s Ukrainian teammate Olha Lyakhova was a close third in 2:00.79.
The men’s two-lap final isn’t until tomorrow, but in tonight’s semi-finals Poland’s Adam Kszczot, the two-time defending champion, showed his mastery of the event, posting the fastest mark of the evening of 1:46.11. Kszczot was in last place at the bell, but slid past the field on the outside over the final 300 meters to take the win, confidently.
“It’s never easy,” Kszczot told Race Results Weekly. He continued: “I did a good job. I can’t imagine a better semi-final.”
Kszczot’s main rival for gold, France’s Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, finished third in the same heat setting up a great final which will also include two other Poles, Mateus Borkowski and Michal Rozmys. Also advancing was Sweden’s Andreas Kramer, who won the first heat in 1:46.14, and Denmark’s Andreas Bube who finished close behind Kramer in 1:46.40.
“It was rough out there,” Bube told Race Results Weekly showing off a spike wound. “It was like a boxing match. I won my fight.”
In other qualifying action, Laura Muir got off on the right foot at these championships, winning the first of two heats of the women’s 1500m on the strength of a 60.5-second closing lap. Muir, whose 3:55.22 personal best is easily the fastest in the field, ran a patient race, moving from the back of the field at 300 meters, and not coming to the front until after the bell. She easily held of Ireland’s Ciara Mageean, Portugal’s Marta Pen Freitas, and Poland’s Angelika Cichocka (the reigning champion) who filled out the next three places.
“I just wanted to stay out of trouble and I did that, so yes I am happy,” Muir commented to British Athletics. “I had plenty in hand, it was just a case of staying out of trouble and trying to qualifying as comfortably as possible.”
Muir’s teammate, Laura Weightman, also advanced by finishing second in heat 2, but she took a different approach than Muir. Weightman ran near the front the entire heat, then gently picked it up on the backstretch on the final lap and eased to the finish in 4:08.74. She did not react when Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui moved past her in the homestretch to win the heat in 4:08.60.
“That last lap I know to go steady,” Weightman told Race Results Weekly. “I don’t like to waste energy before the final.”
The two winners of the women’s steeplechase preliminary heats, Norway’s Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdahl and Switzerland’s Fabienne Schlumpf, both used front-running tactics to secure their places in the final. Grøvdahl, who was the bronze medalist at the 2016 edition of these championships in the 10,000m, led nearly every step of the first heat, and won without a hard final sprint in 9:34.23. Denmark’s Anna Møller, France’s Ophélie Claude-Boxberger, Germany’s Elena Burkhard, and Spain’s Irene Sanchez all finished less than half a second behind and secured the other four automatic qualifying spots from that heat.
“I think it’s good to be in the front,” Grøvdahl told Race Results Weekly before hustling out of the mixed zone to recover. “I have better technique that way. It was a safe race.”
Schlumpf competed in similar fashion, but maintained a gap on the field for the final lap of the race. The tall Swiss woman cruised to the line in 9:32.32, nearly a full second ahead of the petite Luiza Gega of Albania. The defending champion, Germany’s Gesa Krause, was third.
“I wanted to run with the leading group,” Schlumpf told European Athletics interviewers. “It just happened like this that at one moment, I did not want to race to loose speed, so I decided to go in front. And I felt good there and I was able to continue strong until the finish line.”
The 24th European Athletics Championships continue tomorrow at Olympic Stadium with finals for both the men’s 800m and 5000m in the evening. These championships conclude on Sunday when the men’s and women’s marathons will be held on the same course in the morning (with slightly different start times), and the women’s 1500m, 5000m and 3000m steeplechase finals will be held in less than a one-hour period on Sunday night.