12th June 2024


Great Britain and Northern Ireland finished with a flourish on the last night of the European Athletics Championships in Rome, taking double gold delight with the women’s 4x100m relay and Keely Hodgkinson (Trevor Painter, Leigh) putting in a dominant show in the Italian capital.

The sprint relay squad excelled on the final event of the session involving British interest, while Hodgkinson retained the 800m title she won in Munich two years prior.

There was also a sixth-place finish for Patrick Dever (Andy Bibby, Preston) in the men’s 10,000m, and a seventh place for the men’s 4x400m relay team, while Neil Gourley (Stephen Haas, Giffnock North) was the top finisher in the men’s 1500m in ninth after a last lap tear up.

The 4x100m women buoyed by their superlative semi-final performance yesterday were unbeatable with a revised line up of Dina Asher-Smith (Edrick Floréal, Blackheath & Bromley), Desiree Henry (Steve Fudge, Enfield & Haringey), Amy Hunt (Marco Airale, Charnwood) and Daryll Neita (Marco Airale, Cambridge Harriers) leading from the start to set a European lead of 41.91secs ahead of the French quartet in second and the Dutch team taking bronze.

It was a show of utter class from the foursome and achieved a very special milestone for lead-leg running Asher-Smith who achieved her sixth gold medal for GB & NI at a European Championships:

She said: “I feels special, I definitely really want this one. The relay is a big reason why I am here. I was annoyed in Munich because I knew the sixth gold medal was on the cards if we had won there, but I definitely wanted to come to Rome and take that record.”

Another athlete who found the moment special was Henry, who was delighted to once again be part of the strike four after an absence from the ranks.

She said, “I couldn’t hold it back (the tears). This has just been incredible, and I am so proud to be back in this position. So many things have been thrown at me, but I love the sport at the end of the day. This is where I want to be, racing with these amazing girls. They have been so welcoming and wow, we are European champions, baby!”

Hunt echoed this sentiment, looking back on a period of injuries and delighting in the indication the sub-42 clocking gave.

“This has been such a journey for me, this really means so much,” reflected Hunt. “After injuries, after surgeries, after so much stress, to be able to stand here next to these lovely ladies, is incredible. I have been inspired by all of them up to this point in my journey.”

Neita, less than 24 hours ago disappointed with her silver-winning 200m performance was finally able to smile, and seemed to have vanquished the doldrums of yesterday’s result:

“To come out today and run with these incredible ladies and bring it home, is amazing,” she said.

“I was distracted watching the rest of the race because they were running so well! I knew I had to finish off the job. I did my thing. We have a really great bond between us, and it is very exciting ahead of the rest of the summer.”

Hodgkinson reigned supreme once again in the women’s 800m as she added a second European outdoor title to her collection, despite feeling under the weather, to achieve more silverware.

After hitting the front early on, the Olympic silver medallist showed her quality as she held the inside line and dictated the pace of the rest of the field. With all eyes on her every move, the rest of the field tracked her all the way around, and although not at 100%, she turned the screw on the second lap to ratchet up the pace as they entered the home straight.

Despite a slight challenge from Slovakia’s Gabriela Gajanova on her inside in the final few strides, in truth, the Briton looked in fine form to capture the title once more in a time of 1:58.65.

After her second outdoor continental success of her career, she said, “I think it’s really great, it does give me extra confidence and that championship practice – three rounds – is so different to doing just the one on the circuit so I am happy to get that practice in early and to defend my title.

“I do believe in myself, and I thought the best way, the easiest way and the safest way to do it was to go to the front and control it and I backed my strength and speed to deliver the gold.”

“I’ll go back to do a little bit of training for the trials, this time of year is about ticking over, keeping the training in, all the hard work is done, it’s about surviving right now.”

After Megan Keith’s fine 10,000m gold on Tuesday evening, the British trio of Patrick Dever, Zakariya Mahamed (Idris Hamud, Southampton) and Rory Leonard (Andy Hobdell, Morpeth) all went into the men’s encounter with optimism, primarily Dever who came into the race highly ranked after some solid displays so far this year, including going  close to the Olympic standard.

Dever was the lead protagonist for the much of the race, frustrated by the slow moving nature of the first few laps, he moved to the front to conduct the pace and make it a true run race. It worked for long periods as he sat at the head of a large leading pack which dwindled as the race unfolded, and at the bell, he was alongside six others who all had a shot at the medals.

As they reached the 300m to go mark, the Swiss, Labalu, and French, Schrub, made their decisive move and the Preston Harrier did not have the acceleration in his legs to respond. Spain’s Ndikumwenayo also moved passed and the medals were out of touch. He fought valiantly but would ultimately come through in sixth place in a time of 28:04.43

Further back, Mahamed would end his first senior Europeans in 17th in 28:25.31, while Leonard, also at his first senior track championships, took 19th in 28:33.66.

In the first event of the evening with British involvement, the men’s 4x400m relay quartet ended their campaign in seventh after a mixed race for the quartet.

Toby Harries (David Sadkin, Brighton Phoenix), fresh from a strong leg in the heats on Tuesday, went out on leg one today, and would hand over to Michael Ohioze (Craig Cox, Shaftesbury Barnet) in third place, providing his teammate with plenty to work with on his leg. The Tokyo Olympian ran a solid 400m to maintain his position before handing over to Lewis Davey (Trevor Painter, Newham and Essex Beagles) on third leg. He had to show his strength down the backstraight as teams battled for position, and he ran well to set up Alex Haydock-Wilson (Earl Herbert, Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow) to attack the final leg, who did down the backstraight but it was not enough to contest with the rest of the field as they ended in seventh in 3:01.89.

In a frantic finale to the men’s 1500m, Neil Gourley would finish down in ninth with Adam Fogg (Cory Leslie, Coventry) in 12th after three-and-three quarter laps which built up for a sprint finish for the line.

Gourley positioned himself fantastically heading into the final lap, sitting behind eventual champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, and although there was the potential to be boxed in, he knew the Norwegian would pull away and he would be on hand to respond. However, as they headed into the last 80m with the rest of the field on his shoulder, the Briton couldn’t respond to the severe change of acceleration and ultimately crossed the line in ninth, with his compatriot close behind.

Great Britain & Northern Ireland medal tally:

GOLD: [4]: Dina Asher-Smith – Women’s 100m, Keely Hodgkinson – Women’s 800m, Women’s 4x100m Relay (Dina Asher-Smith, Desiree Henry, Amy Hunt, Daryll Neita), Women’s Half Marathon Team,

SILVER [4]: Georgia Bell – Women’s 1500m, Charlie Dobson – Men’s 400m, George Mills – Men’s 5000m, Daryll Neita – Women’s 200m

BRONZE [5]: Lizzie Bird – Women’s 3000m steeplechase, Molly Caudery – Women’s Pole Vault, Romell Glave – Men’s 100m, Calli Hauger-Thackery – Women’s Half Marathon, Megan Keith – Women’s 5000m

Results: https://live.european-athletics.com/ECH2024/lrs/home