British distance runners enjoy victories at the European Under-23 Championships
The future of British distance running is in good hands if results from the European Under-23 Championships in Espoo, Finland, are anything to go by. Firstly Megan Keith struck gold in the women’s 5000m on Thursday evening (July 13) and then, less than 24 hours later, Charles Hicks won the men’s 5000m title on Friday morning.
Both athletes won in emphatic style after running away from their rivals in the closing stages. Keith clocked 15:34.33 to beat Maria Forero of Spain by nine seconds, while Hicks eased away from host nation hope Eemil Helander to win by five seconds in 13:35.07.
Behind, Will Barnicoat took bronze in the men’s race but there was heartache for Eloise Walker in the women’s race as she broke clear with GB team-mate Keith in the latter stages and was still in second place with 150m to go but struggled in the home straight, falling due to exhaustion with 20 metres to go before getting up to finish fifth.
The European Cross-Country Championships in Turin last December proved a good form guide to the action in Espoo. At that event seven months ago, Keith took under-23 silver behind Nadia Battocletti, Hicks won the under-23 men’s title and Forero captured the under-20 women’s crown.
Keith said: “I told myself when I make a move (with just over 2km to go), I needed to make it decisive and I’m really proud that’s what I did. I’m really happy to come away with the win, as we knew the race was going to be unpredictable.
“I looked at the screen around 300m to go, and hoped to have enough to keep going, as I saw I had made a gap. I ran at this track last year, and was disappointed how I ran, but I’ve been working hard since then and gained a lot of experience and I’m really happy with how it has gone.”
For Keith, victory was sweeter still after she missed bronze by just two hundredths of a second at the European Under-20 Championships two years ago.
Gold medal for Great Britain 🥇
A clean sweep in the 5000m at the European U23 Championships 🇬🇧
Charles Hicks matches Megan Keith by dominating the 5000m, clocking 13:35.07 in Finland 💥pic.twitter.com/Bz3FJT7mfb
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) July 14, 2023
Hicks’ victory came just five days after finishing fourth in the 5000m at the UK Championships. The Stanford student has also recently agreed to join the Nike Bowerman Track Club in the United States and here in Espoo he breezed away impressively from the competition to take gold with gun-to-tape front-running tactics.
Earlier on Thursday, Britain’s first medal of the championships came in the field as Serena Vincent became Britain’s first women to win a shot put medal at these championships as she threw a 16.93m PB.
Alida van Daalen of the Netherlands took gold with 18.32m. It puts her on course for a throws’ double as she targets another title in the discus.
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