This is the second piece by Stuart Weir on the amazing day 2 in Torun! This piece is about the 800m semis!
The 800m semis
35 women set off on Friday in a quest to reach the final of the women’s 800 meters. Six athletes succeeded and three of them are British girls. The British girls were in different races with Keely Hodgkinson winning her semi in 2:03.11, Ellie Baker coming second in hers in 2:03.29, and Isabelle Boffey second in the other in 2:03.34. It was a magnificent performance by the British women. The semi-finals were real championship races – six athletes, two qualifiers for the final, four losers. No “fastest loser” qualification safety net.
Keely Hodgkinson, who celebrated her 19th birthday just this week, ran with a maturity beyond her years controlling the race and winning in the utterly irrelevant time 2:03.11. Keely is coached by Trevor Painter with helpful advice from Mrs. Painter, better known as Jenny Meadows. I think she knows a bit about how to run 800, as does Mr. Painter.
Keely said afterward: “I knew I wanted it to be a little bit quicker than yesterday because I didn’t want anyone to sneak up or sneak through, so I thought I’ll take it from the front. I wasn’t expecting to take the lead that early, but I just went with it and I knew I was going to be strong enough to hold off. It was about taking the pace and keeping it strong. I knew what I could do. It was just about not panicking”.
In the second semi-final, Isabelle Boffey looked a bit off the pace in the early stages but timed her to move to perfection to take second place in 2:03.34, commenting: “I’m so excited. I knew that was going to be the hardest race of the weekend just because of how competitive it is. I’m really happy that I’ve executed my plan well, I stayed strong and secured my place in the final. I felt like I could surprise them. No one sped up as I was coming past from the back, so I knew they didn’t know what was about to happen, but I’m strong in that last 200m and I knew I had to use that to my advantage. I’m really happy with how it turned out”.
Ellie Baker also looked in control throughout the race, finishing in 2:03.29. Her post-race comment was: “I’m ecstatic. My aim coming into this competition was to make the final. I knew that I was in shape to do it. My coach had faith in me. We’ve followed the plan so closely this year and I haven’t missed anything. I’ve trained hard for this, so I couldn’t be happier!”
The other three finalists are Lore Hoffmann of Switzerland, Joanna Jozwik (Poland) and Angelika Cichocka.
The Men’s 800 final will be contested by the 2017 world outdoor champion, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse (France), Amel Tuka (Bosnia), the in-form, Jamie Webb (GB), and three Poles Patryk Dobek, Mateusz Borkowski, and Adam Kszczot.
It promises to be two cracking races.