Stuart Weir did this piece, an assessment of team GB at the European Indoors.
An assessment of team GB at the European Indoors
In my preview of the event, I noted that Great Britain had achieved 12 medals in Glasgow 2019. However, with the winners of 9 of the individual medals not competing in Torun (Asha Philip, Chris O’Hare, Katerina Johnson-Thompson, Laura Muir (2 medals in 2019), Melissa Courtney-Bryant, Niamh Emerson, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke, and Tim Duckworth), matching the 12 medal haul would be a challenge. That it was achieved, was a magnificent achievement by a young team.
To put in it context AW (standing for Athletics Weekly who now publishes a monthly magazine!) predicted six medals. While the six predicted medallists duly delivered, although only one of them got the AW-predicted color – one better and four lower than predicted.
The 12 GB medals were:
Keely Hodgkinson (women’s 800m), Amy-Eloise Markovc (women’s 3000m)
Holly Archer (women’s 1500m), Andrew Pozzi (men’s 60m hurdles), Cindy Sember (women’s 60m hurdles), women’s 4x400m relay
Verity Ockenden (women’s 3000m), Jodie Williams (women’s 400m), Holly Bradshaw (women’s pole vault), Tiffany Porter (women’s 60m hurdles), Jamie Webb (men’s 800m), men’s 4x400m relay
Keely Hodgkinson (women’s 800m)
19-year-old Keely Hodgkinson is an extremely talented athlete, who broke the world junior record. Her down-to-earth coach, Trevor Painter, is still saying that her goal this summer is either the Olympics or the World Juniors! The way she controlled the 800m against much more experienced runners was magnificent.
Amy-Eloise Markovc, photo by European Athletics
Amy-Eloise Markovc is 25 and this was her first championship. She managed her race brilliantly to be in the right position to strike for gold. Verity Ockenden is 19 and has a whole life to build on her bronze medal.
Holly Archer, aged 27, has been a solid middle-distance runner for years never quite making a GB team. She did qualify for the canceled 2020 World Indoors. The race was slow and bunched and very physical but Archer kept her nerve and succeeded.
Andrew Pozzi (men’s 60m hurdles)
It is harsh to call a silver medal and a defeat by one-hundredth of a second a disappointment but we had high hopes of gold from the reigning World Indoor Champion. That an early-season injury had restricted Pozzi to 4 races in 2021 – compared to Belocian’s 12, might have made the difference.
Holly Bradshaw (women’s pole vault)
Holly just had what Jimmy Connors used to call “a bad day at the office”. She produced her lowest clearance of the year in the one that mattered most. Still bronze on a bad day says something.
Women’s 60m hurdles
With two athletes in the final field of six, there was always a chance of a medal. Both sisters, Tiffany and Cindy, had the potential to get a medal but equally, there were reasons why they might not – in terms of Cindy’s injury and Tiffany becoming a mom. In the end, they were magnificent gaining silver and bronze.
Jamie Webb (800m)
He did a little wrong but finished with a bronze. The frustration was just that he is a better athlete than two years ago when he took a surprise silver. The margins are pretty small – 0.14 second between gold and bronze.
Jodie Williams (women’s 400m)
No-one doubts Jodie’s talent but to take a medal starting in the inside lane, having never run an indoor 400m before this year, was magnificent.
Britain always does well in the 4 by 400m! In both cases, it was a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. The women included two athletes in their first-ever championships. The men had only one of the four who had run in the 2019 World Championship final. Two very inexperienced teams had battled to a medal.
Not just medals
Going beyond medals, there were some excellent performances – Andrew Robertson (60m) and Ellie Baker (800m) were fourth. 20-year-old Holly Mills was fifth in the Pentathlon, Isabelle Boffey (also 20) sixth in the 800m, and Amelia Quirk (21) sixth in the 3000m. Piers Copeland (22) was fifth in a high class 1500m. Valuable experience for all of them.
At the same time let’s not get carried away. A good performance in a European Indoor Championship is a long way from an Olympic final – and some events from an Olympic team.