Reekie completes the middle distance double in Gävle

Jemma Reekie
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Great Britain's Jemma Reekie won gold medals in both the 800m and 1500m at the Gavle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships

Great Britain’s Jemma Reekie and Denmark’s Anna Emilie Moller completed track doubles on the final day of competition at the Gavle 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships.

Reekie has raced on each of the four days of the championships but the Brit defied her tired legs to produce a sprightly last lap of 59.6 to complete the 800/1500m double and add to her European U20 1500m title from Grosseto two years ago.

The Brit didn’t face any significant opposition on the last lap, maintaining her position and utilising her impressive closing pace to win her second gold medal of the championships in 4:22.81 ahead of Belgium’s Elise Vanderelst (4:23.50) and Italy’s Marta Zenoni (4:23.96). 

“I am happy with the win and the race was a really tough one because of how sore my body was after all the races I've ran during these four days,” said Reekie. “My legs were really hurting, but I knew I couldn't stop; I had to keep going.” 

Twenty four hours after winning the 3000m steeplechase title for the second time, Denmark’s Anna Emilie Moller was also back on the track and came away with her second gold medal in the 5000m. After a gun-to-tape win in the 3000m steeplechase yesterday, Moller applied different tactics this time, shadowing Germany’s 10,000m winner Alina Reh all the way until the final 200 metres. 

After setting a championship record of 9:27.31 to win the 3000m steeplechase, Moller sprinted to victory in the 5000m in a Danish record of 15:07.70 ahead of Reh's 15:11.25. “I only saw this is a bonus event after my last medal and to be honest I feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment,” said Moller.

Vasiliy Mizinov produced an incredible final kilometre in the men’s 20km race walk to reel in the fading and ailing long-time leader Salih Korkmaz from Turkey. 

Walking at a pace far in excess of his national record of 1:21:37, Korkmaz still led by 58 seconds with two kilometres remaining but he was beginning to feel the effects of these exertions, keeling over - and almost stopping altogether at times - with stomach cramps on the penultimate circuit.

Korkmaz was in clear discomfort but he still had a cushion of 33 seconds as he embarked on his final loop of the course in downtown Gavle. Surely this would be sufficient? 

The leader regained some of his form and composure but Mizinov was on the charge. The European bronze medallist was pumping his arms and legs furiously, getting ever closer to the leader before forcing his way past a flagging Korkmaz with the finish-line in view. Mizinov produced a final kilometre of 3:46 compared to Korkmaz’s 4:22 to win by three seconds in 1:21:29.

“Many competitors started too quickly and don't think too much about the finish, so I was hoping that Korkmaz would get tired and he did. I started much slower than the others but it paid off in the end,” said Mizinov.

Continuing the theme of gun-to-tape wins in women’s distance events in Gavle, Turkey’s Ayse Tekdal led nearly every step of a slightly less eventful women’s 20km race walk. 

Tekdal began ambitiously and was on course for a sub-1:30 clocking in the early stages and even though her kilometre splits began to drop in the latter stages, the Turk still won by more than one minute.

And theme of excellent Turkish performances continued into the triple jump. Necati Er had never broken the 17-metre line prior to arriving in Gavle but the 22-year-old led qualifying with a Turkish record of 17.05m. 

A repeat of that mark would have sufficed for gold but he replaced his national record from qualifying with a phenomenal 17.37m in the second round to beat reigning champion Nazim Babayev from Azerbaijan with 17.03m.

The track action kicked off with a dramatic finish in the women’s 400m hurdles with Belgium’s Paulien Couckuyt producing a strong run off the final barrier to overhaul the Italian pre-race favourite Linda Olivieri whose legs gave way just when she was on the cusp of gold.

Couckuyt was rewarded with not only the gold medal but also a lifetime best of 56.17, winning by 0.05 from Olivieri who fell across the finish-line in a heap. The Italian still came away with the silver medal on her 21st birthday in 56.22.

And the track programme closed with another come-from-behind victory for Poland in the women’s 4x400m as individual 400m winner Natalia Kaczmarek clawed back a fifteen metre deficit on Great Britain’s Hannah Williams to bring the baton home in 3:32.56.

Full results here