This is the recap of the fine women’s 1,500 meters, won by Laura Muir, at the 2022 European Athletics Championships, held August 15-21, 2022. This recap was done by Race Results Weekly, which we use with permission.
MUIR STORMS TO EUROPEAN 1500M TITLE
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.
MÜNICH (19-Aug) — With a savage move about 25 meters before taking the bell, Britain’s Laura Muir overwhelmed the field here at Olympic Stadium tonight and successfully defended her European Athletics 1500m title. Muir, a Scotswoman, ran the final lap in 60.4 seconds and won in 4:01.08. Her victory tonight came just 12 days after she won the Commonwealth Games title at the same distance.
“Physically, I’m not too bad, but mentally, oh my God, that was hard,” Muir told reporters. “I’m used to feeling tired, I’m used to training and racing, but that was something else.”
When Muir, 29, consulted with her coach Andy Young before the race, they both agreed that her ability to jump the field late in the race was her best weapon. So, she immediately dropped to the back of the twelve-woman field after the gun to save energy, then waited for two laps to go before moving to the front. Ireland’s Ciara Mageean shadowed her closely, and Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui tried to stay close. Muir was only just beginning her wind-up.
“Speaking with Andy, we knew I could run the last lap faster than anybody else,” Muir explained. “So, if I was tired, the best –the safest– way to run it was to do that.”
But Mageean would not give up so easily. She had planned for this exact kind of race.
“It’s funny visualizing different types of races, and in my 20-minute warm-up, that’s exactly what I visualized,” Mageean told Race Results Weekly. “Laura’s probably going to go, and in my mind, she’s going to go a little sooner than at Commonwealth Games; she’s going to go earlier, which she did. I said to myself, you be her shadow.”
Coming down the homestretch the penultimate time, Muir switched on the afterburners even before getting to the bell. Mageean reacted immediately and stayed close, but Ennaoui was too far back to catch up (she would have to settle for bronze in 4:03.59). Mageean was still close as she and Muir rounded the final bend, but Muir was just too fast.
“I thought going up the home straight that maybe I was going to have her, but she’s just got a little bit more strength than me,” said Mageean, who ran a season’s best 4:02.56. “Laura’s a 3:55 runner, and I’m just not there yet.”
With her gold medal tonight, Muir won medals at all three of this summer’s major championships. At the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, she took bronze in the 1500m, and at the Commonwealth Games, she won the 1500m and took bronze in the 800m.
“I really wanted to win; to get a medal at Worlds as well. I’m so pleased,” Muir said.
There was more success for the British team today in the semi-finals of the 800m.
During the morning session, all the medal favorites advanced to the final of the women’s 800m, including all three British women who ran today. In the first of two heats, Olympic and World Championships silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson got the win in 2:00.67 and confirmed her status as the gold medal favorite. She finished comfortably ahead of Poland’s Anna Wielgosz (2:01.05) and Ireland’s Louise Shanahan (2:01.15).
“I’m just really happy to have got through,” Hodgkinson told the British Athletics media team. “I’m tired, but I’m taking it race by race. I could have taken it on, but the Polish girl set the pace, which certainly helped me, so I’m just pleased to have got the job done.”
Frenchwoman Renelle Lamote narrowly won the second heat over Hodgkinson’s British teammate Jemma Reekie, 2:00.23 to 2:00.30. A third British woman, Alex Bell, got third in 2:00.53, putting three British women into the final.
“It’s great to see all three of us through,” said Bell, who finished sixth in the Commonwealth Games 800m. “I think even though I have been racing for so long, it’s only been this season that races are stressing me less when it gets baggy and clumpy and trippy. In the past, I have panicked at that point, so I am just conserving more energy because the more composed you are, the more energy you save.”
Much to the delight of the German fans here, Christina Hering advanced on time by finishing fourth in the second heat at 2:00.86.
“WOW,” Hering wrote on her Instagram just after the race. “The home crowd gave me wings.”
In the men’s 800 semi-finals tonight, reigning world 1500m champion Jake Wightman advanced to the final by going from fifth place to second place in the homestretch of heat two, stopping the clock in 1:46.61. The Scotsman finished behind Spain’s Mariano Garcia (1:46.52) and just ahead of Ireland’s Mark English, whom Wightman passed in the final 20 meters.
Although he made the final, Wightman wasn’t happy with his performance.
“I didn’t run well there,” he told the British Athletics media team. “I think the one thing I am taking from it is I must be pretty fit because tactically, I was all over the place, but I was still able to get through. I hope I don’t get lane one in the final as I didn’t run too well from there.”
The first heat went slow, and Poland’s Patryk Dobek (the 2021 Olympic bronze medalist) only managed to finish fourth in the final sprint and did not make the final. Instead, Sweden’s Andreas Kramer (1:48.37), Italy’s Simone Barontini (1:48.51), and France’s Benjamin Robert (same time as Barontini). Moved on to the final. Kramer performed a deft move in the final 50 meters, slicing through the center of the field to get the win.
“I just waited for it because I didn’t want to disturb anyone,” Kramer told Race Results Weekly. “Just kicked and waited for the small opening. Then when it came, I just went for it.”
In tonight’s other medal event within the distance disciplines, Finland’s Topi Raitanen fended off a triple attack from the Italian twins Osama and Ala Zoghlami and their teammate Ahmed Abdelwahed. Raitanen, 26, helped set the early pace and then allowed the Italians to lead the final laps before making his bid for victory.
“My strategy was to keep a decent pace, and everybody’s happy, and nobody wants to push harder, so I saved some energy for the last laps,” Raitanen told Race Results Weekly. “Italy guys, really strong guys, started to push the pace, and I just knew that I needed to follow them and keep up, and just wait for the last lap, so everything is possible.”
Coming down the backstretch on the final lap, Raitanen moved to the lead and then carefully took the final water jump. He began to sense that victory would be his.
“After the last water jump, I saw a small gap behind me, and I really can take the medal,” he said. “I was just taking it really, really carefully and not fall down. A couple of meters and I was watching the screen, and I still had a small gap behind me, and I know I can win.”
Raitanen crossed the finish line in 8:21.80 and became only the second Finnish man to win the European title (Jukka Keskisalo did it in Gothenburg in 2006). His victory is important in a country that has a rich steeplechase tradition: Finnish men won four consecutive Olympic steeplechase titles from 1924 through 1936, and Tapio Kantanen won the Olympic bronze medal here in Münich in 1972.
“It’s huge, of course,” Raitanen said when asked about the significance of his win back home in Finland. “I know that this stadium has been one of the best for the Finns. It has been many, many years since the last runner finishing first in this stadium. I’m really glad that I… am one of the guys who has been winning here, and I hope that young runners in Finland see this race and gives them motivation to the sport and push themselves.”
Abdelwahed got the silver in 8:22.35, and Osama Zoghlami won bronze in 8:23.44 (his brother Ala finished seventh).