13th July 2019


Jemma Reekie (club: Kilbarchan; coach: Andy Young) and Shemar Boldizsar (Harlow; Vincent Lawrence) won Great Britain & Northern Ireland’s first golds of the European Under-23 Championships on a superb penultimate night that saw the team win five medals in total in Gavle.

Reekie showed her class to add the European under-23 women’s 800m title to her European junior 1500m gold from 2017 as part of a spree of four medals in matter of minutes before debutant Boldizsar’s dominant victory in the men’s 200m final capped a great evening for the British team.

Piers Copeland (Wimborne; Bob Smith) came from nowhere to claim men’s 1500m silver and Cameron Chalmers (Guernsey; James Hillier) picked up the same colour in the men’s 400m after taking the final out – both before Reekie’s gold and a fine silver for Ellie Baker (Shaftesbury Barnet; Jon Bigg) in the same race.

After a silver and two bronzes from the first two days of these European Under-23 Championships in Gavle, those five medals pushed the British team’s tally to eight overall with Reekie, in particular, straight back out tomorrow night to attempt an 800m-1500m double.

The standout British performance so far in Sweden, Reekie had to race smart in a messy 800m final alongside teammate Baker. Despite the scrappy nature, Reekie maintained her composure and would not be caught as she kicked for the line with 200m to go to win by over second.

It was reminiscent of her European champion training partner Laura Muir, and also like her compatriot, Reekie is attempting an 800m-1500m double in Gavle. Her 800m gold will have sent shockwaves through her rivals such was her dominance in the latter stages as she clocked 2:05.19.

She said: “I just knew once I committed I had to commit. I knew the girls behind me were really strong, they have got more 800m experience than me but I just knew I had to kick. I have never wanted it so badly. I was running towards the line and hoping it would come sooner and sooner, so I am really pleased. It is so special [the one-two with Baker]. We have grown up together, we have shared a room, it was so special.

“It would be amazing [to win the double]. I am going to go out again and run my best. I know it is a strong field out there as well and you can’t take it for granted at Europeans. I will run my best and hopefully I will come away with another gold.”

Not to be discounted, Baker ran a great race for silver, sticking with roommate in Gavle, Reekie, as she broke. Baker clocked 2:06.33 for silver, that comfortably ahead of Ireland’s Nadia Power, who was reinstated to third after a series of appeals.

Baker said: “I am so happy. Of course I would have loved to have got the gold medal but I have worked hard all year. I fell short, it is what it is, but I love Jemma. She is my roommate here and I am so happy we are going to be on the podium together.

“I am really loving the experience. It is a great experience to push you onto senior levels. I might go and get a pancake with Nutella to celebrate. I have been eyeing them up since I have been here but couldn’t have one. That’s definitely on the agenda in the next couple of days.”

British debutant Boldizsar signalled intent of his potential at the trials as he took 200m gold in a 20.65 personal best and he looked impressive throughout the rounds in Gavle to become the clear favourite for gold. He duly delivered in the final with an impressive 20.89 run while Toby Harries (Brighton Phoenix), who was equally impressive in the heats and semi-finals, was an agonising fourth in 21.17.

Boldizsar said: “I wasn’t expecting to win. I was trying to beat my personal best today, that was what I had in my mind that I wanted to do. It didn’t happen but to run a good time in my first international out and about like this in another country and win gold, it is a good experience and hopefully I can do a lot more in the future.

“I am proud to be wearing the GB kit and to win a gold medal for them. I am here for a reason and I am here to win gold for the team and to perform. It is going to be busy now. I am going to be chatting to my friends, my family, my coach and the staff, who have been really supportive.”

As impressive as Reekie’s gold was, Copeland’s 1500m silver just moments before seemingly came from nowhere. Well outside the medals down the home straight after a tight race to that point, he masterfully found a gap on the inside and showed a brilliant turn of speed with a reach at the line seeing him claim silver.

The scoreboards didn’t initially have him in second but the official results placed him with silver in 3:50.89 – an achievement surpassing his personal expectations while British teammate Jake Heyward (Cardiff; James Thie) was 11th in 3:52.98.

Copeland said: “I feel ecstatic. I really didn’t expect to get a medal. The aim was to try and make the final and enjoy the champs, so to come away with silver – I am over the moon. I was looking for a line [on the home straight] and one just appeared on the inside and I thought ‘I have just got to go for it, it’s my only chance’. I threw everything into it and managed to get the silver.”

On a night of fine British performances, Chalmers can be commended for taking out the men’s 400m final and going for it from the gun. He was leading right until the death but just couldn’t hold on for gold as Fabrisio Saidy of France took the tape.

Chalmers finished with a season’s best time of 45.92 and could yet add to his tally with the men’s 4x400m relay final to come tomorrow night. He said: “I was winning until the last 10m, I ran to win so it is a shame not to. I put myself into the position [to win], I said I was going to attack it and I did.

“I don’t think I will ever be super happy with it because I know I could have won it on another day but it is still obviously a good achievement and second in Europe isn’t bad. At the moment I am just absolutely shattered. I am sure once I go home and regroup I will be proud. But there are more goals and bigger things.”

There was an agonising fourth place for Divine Oladipo (Blackheath & Bromley; John Hillier) in the women’s shot put final as Germany led a clean sweep of the podium. Oladipo got better through the rounds and secured three further throws with her third attempt of 16.79m. However, she followed it up with three fouls, unable to break the German dominance, to settle for fourth overall.

In a hotly contested men’s pole vault final, Charlie Myers (Middlesbrough; Chris Boundy) was the best finisher of the three Brits in action, fifth with the cleanest series as all narrowly failed to clear at 5.60m. Joel Leon Benitez (Notts; Robert Philips) looked good as did Adam Hague (Sheffield & Dearne; Trevor Fox) but they finished sixth and seventh respectively following one foul at 5.50m before clearing.

European indoor fourth placer Kristal Awuah (Herne Hill; Matthew Thomas) battled to sixth in the women’s 200m final following a good start, clocking 23.66 while British team captain Morgan Lake (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow; Fuzz Caan) was also sixth in the women’s high jump with a best clearance of 1.85m.

Petros Surafel (Mick Woods; Thames Valley) and William Fuller (Blackheath & Bromley; George Gandy) brought the curtain down on the British action on the penultimate day in the men’s 5000m and were in the mix until the final few laps. Surafel finished 11th in 14:28.63 while Fuller was 15th in 14:32.86. Aimee Pratt (Sale Harriers Manchester; Vicente Modahl) battled valiantly in the women’s 3000m steeplechase final, finishing 11th in 10:18.98.

In the men’s hammer final, world junior champion Jake Norris (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow; Paul Dickenson) agonisingly missed out on throwing in the latter stages despite getting better as the competition went on.

A 67.96m first effort was followed by a 68.08m and then a final 68.64m however it was short of a further three throws by just eight centimetres as Norris was forced to settle for ninth on the penultimate night of action in Gavle.

In qualifying action, Alex Knibbs (Amber Valley & Erewash; Nick Dakin) went one better than the World Junior Championships last year as he advanced to the final of the men’s 400m hurdles.

Knibbs showed great composure to recover from hitting hurdle three and put himself in contention for the final by finishing fourth in the first of the two semi-finals in 50.56 – his time eventually placing him eighth overall and in the final.

Ade Mason (Shaftesbury Barnet; Alfredo Melo) produced a best jump of 15.15m with his first attempt in qualifying for the men’s triple jump but unfortunately did not progress to tomorrow’s medal showdown in Gavle.

Action continues tomorrow from 10:00 BST. The timetable for the Championships can be found via https://bit.ly/2JurM5T.

British Athletics medal tally (8):


Shemar Boldizsar – Men’s 200m

Jemma Reekie – Women’s 800m


Ellie Baker – Women’s 800m

Oliver Bromby – Men’s 100m

Cameron Chalmers – Men’s 400m

Piers Copeland – Men’s 1500m


Cameron Fillery – Men’s 110m Hurdles

Emile Cairess – Men’s 10,000m