The 800-meter rounds have been tough. Stuart Weir wrote this piece on Saturday night, after the tough semi-finals in both the men’s and women’s 800 meters.
The two semi-finals of each of the two 800-meter competitions set up two intriguing finals in the final session. There seems no case for suggesting any other outcome in the women’s race than a comfortable win for Keely Hodgkinson. Larry is tipping Anita Horvat and Lore Hoffman for the other medals, and who am I to disagree with? The two semis were intriguing but quite different. Hodgkinson dominated the first semi, finishing in 2:00.05, slowing down. The fast pace set by Hodkinson meant that the two-time qualifiers were from that race, with five out of 6 qualifyings.
Anita Horvat won the second semi in 2:01.11 in a blanket finish with all six athletes within 0.83 seconds of each other. Sunday’s final will include seven of the fastest 10 Europeans this year. Disappointingly, from a British perspective, not included is Issy Boffey, whose 2:00.25 at Birmingham last weekend put her second on the European list. She simply got her tactics wrong, got caught at the back, clipped, and was unable to make the first three. She will learn and come back stronger.
Keely Hodgkinson, 800m semi-finals, photo by Chiara Montesano for European Athletics
In the men’s 800, the first semi was won by Benjamin Robert in 1:47.11. In the second, Adrian Ben won in 1:46.82, with five of six athletes qualifying. The final qualifier was Guy Learmonth. When I spoke to him afterward, I assumed the athletes in the second race would have been aware of the time required to qualify, but he told me he’d had no idea of the time of the first race. I don’t know if this is ethical, but had I been in conversation with the others to ensure that we made it a fast race so that potentially five could qualify. Amazed that they were running blind.
Benjamin Robert, can he win the 800m for France? photo by Chiara Montesano for European Athletics,