News release – British Athletics

Holly Archer (coach: Andrew Parmenter; club: Cambridge & Coleridge) capped her senior debut with a 1500m silver medal while team captain Jodie Williams (Ryan Freckleton; Herts Phoenix) and Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson; Blackburn) added bronze medals to the British tally on the third evening of action at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Torun.

In a dramatic women’s 1500m, Archer fought through the field in the final two laps and produced a killer sprint finish to move up into second position in 4:19.91 to claim her first senior international medal.

An incredibly cagey start saw all nine athletes bunched up before a rapid increase in pace with two laps remaining caught everyone by surprise, with Archer and teammate Katy Snowden (Dan Stepney; Herne Hill) boxed in sixth and seventh position respectively.

But the Cambridge & Coleridge athlete held her nerve and timed her move perfectly, kicking off the final corner to climb from third to second, finishing just behind Belgian Elise Vanderelst, who took the crown in 4:18.44, with Snowden finishing sixth in 4:21.81.

Archer was made to wait for confirmation of her medal following an initial disqualification for obstruction but was reinstated following a successful appeal.

After being confirmed as silver medallist, she said: “That was the longest wait ever. It was supposed to be half an hour but it turned into three hours. I feel absolutely delighted. To come so close and then get it taken away, I’ve been on a rollercoaster, but I’m really happy to finally get that silver.

“It was a scrappy race, but I feel like I raced it the best that I could given the circumstances. I don’t think I could have done anything better. I just wanted to stay out of trouble for as long as possible and show what I could do on the last lap. 

“I literally have no memories. It was a total blur. From the gun, it was just jostling. The first 10m, arms and legs were going everywhere so I don’t really remember much. All I remember is being fifth or sixth. At the bell, I still didn’t know where I was.”

“It’s been an incredible experience. I came into this final with the ambition of getting the gold. I know I was fully capable of doing that today. If it was a faster race, I think I might have done it, so I’m devastated about that, but I’m happy that I still came away with the silver in a really tactical race. The experience has been amazing, and I will definitely learn from this in the future. “

Over 400m, Jodie Williams produced a sensational run from lane one to take bronze in 51.73s, shattering her indoor personal best for the second race in a row in the process.

Williams flew out of the blocks and put herself in a perfect position at the break, sitting just behind European leader Femke Bol (NED) as they hit the backstraight. Despite slipping to fourth with 100m to go, Williams found another gear to move past Lieke Klaver (NED) on the home straight and bag herself a first indoor international medal of her career and move eighth on the all-time British indoor list.

After the race, Williams said: “It’s crazy! I came here to do a job and it’s job done. Last time I came to a European Indoors I got fourth place so I had to upgrade that. I’m really happy. I got a bit boxed in, so I got a bit worried for a second but I knew I could do it. I just dug in and I’m really glad. 

“I’m lucky that I’ve got a 200m background. I knew that no matter what lane I was in, I would still be able to get to that break in around 24 seconds. For me, being on the inside isn’t too bad. I could watch what everyone else was doing and track them.

“It was tough for sure, but I knew it was all about making it to the bell without getting too boxed in. I got boxed in a little bit coming around the top bend, but it evened itself out. 

“I had a lot of younger members of the team coming up to me and talking to me about my speech. I said ‘go out there, back yourself and believe in your ability’. I led by example. It’s been inspirational. Being captain has really motivated me and made me feel like it was bigger than just me. It’s been such a long time since I’ve been on the podium internationally, so it’s going to be really special.”

In the pole vault, Holly Bradshaw walked away with a bronze medal following a best effort of 4.65m, narrowly missing out on a shot at the top two following three good attempts at 4.70m.

Bradshaw looked in control of the event early on with first-time clearances at 4.55m and 4.65m but saw three fouls at 4.70m, brushing the bar each time on her way over, saw her finish in third place. 

Speaking after her event, Bradshaw assessed: “You can’t sniff at a European Indoor medal, but I’m incredibly disappointed. I felt great. The other girls handled their jumps really well and I just didn’t quite jump as well today.

“It’s frustrating to come into the most important meet of the year and jump by far your lowest. In pole vault, it’s all about fine margins. At 4.70m, I thought I was still doing good jumps. I was executing them well and the bar just wasn’t staying on for me and on any other given day it could have done, but today it didn’t.

“I’ve learnt a lot. I’m feeling relatively positive, yet disappointed. It’s still a really good place to be in moving towards outdoors. 

“It’s been one of my best indoor campaigns ever. Of course it’s disappointing to finish like that, but on the whole, I’ve made some really good progress and stepped it up a notch and I feel like a completely different athlete. It’s just about fine tuning that and getting a few more weeks and months under the belt leading into the Olympics where it matters.”

Andrew Robertson (Michael Carolan; Sale Harriers Manchester) gave it his all in the men’s 60m final but had to settle for fourth position, clocking 6.63s in his third race of the day.

The Briton got out well and was well in contention to come away with something but was just edged out of the medal positions in the final stages by Kevin Kranz (GER) and 2019 champion Jan Volko (SVK), who clocked 6.60s and 6.61s respectively, with Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs romping to the title in 6.47s.

Robertson reflected: “It’s very disappointing. Running 6.59s in the semi-finals was very comfortable. It’s getting tougher. I’m 30 years old. I’m getting to the stage where I should be running low-6.50s consistently. [Lamont Marcell] Jacobs running 6.47s is a fantastic time, but I should be at least challenging him with the way I’ve been running. It wasn’t a good performance tonight. 

“It’s just a form thing. I don’t know whether it’s the posture when I’m running, whether I’m collapsing when I’m running or it’s a head thing. I’ve tried it all. Maybe I want it too much. Maybe I’m trying too hard. Maybe I’m expecting the results to come, I don’t know. I felt very good in the warm-up though. I felt relaxed. I just didn’t do it tonight, so I’m just frustrated. 

“It’s going to take a few days to get over it. I’ll have a few days rest and then regroup. Fingers crossed that we still have the Olympics to look forward too.”

In the first action of the night, British 800m trio Keely Hodgkinson (Trevor Painter; Leigh), Isabelle Boffey (Luke Gunn; Enfield & Haringey) and Ellie Baker (Jon Bigg; Shaftesbury Barnet) safely progressed into tomorrow’s 800m finals with commanding performances.

Hodgkinson controlled her race from the off and kicked away from the field in the final 150m to ease home in 2:03.11, the fastest time of the semis, with Boffey jumping from fourth to first heading into the final lap of the second semi-final and keeping her composure in the home straight to take second in 2:03.34.

Baker ensured it would be a hat-trick for the British women as she took command in the final 150m and opened up a comfortable gap to the chasing pack, easing down to secure second position in 2:03.29.

Hodgkinson assessed afterwards: “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. Sometimes things don’t always go your way in races, but today, I’m glad to make the final and go home and rest for tomorrow. 

“It’s really exciting, the girls really deserve it. Both of them are so strong. Issy came through strong and Ellie held on at the end. To get three out of three through to the final when most people weren’t expecting it, is really good.”

In the men’s equivalent, Jamie Webb (Adrian Webb; Liverpool) underlined his medal credentials with polished performance to make into tomorrow night’s final, but teammate Guy Learmonth (Justin Rinaldi; Lasswade) failed to progress following a fourth-place finish.

Webb was made to work hard for his place in the final as Sweden’s Andreas Kramer led the race off at championship record pace and found himself needing to make a move in the last lap to ensure safe progression.

The Liverpool Harrier kept his form and pushed past the Swede with 100m to go and clocked an impressive 1:45.99, his second fastest time of the year for second position behind Poland’s Mateusz Borkowski.

In a cagey first semi-final, Learmonth found himself jostling for position heading into the final lap and found himself run out of things in the home straight by 2019 world 800m silver medallist Amel Tuka (BIH), having to settle for fourth in 1:47.92.

Webb assessed afterwards: “It’s the craziest race I’ve ever been in! I’m not sure if I’ll be in one like that again. It had everything It was the fastest first 200m I’ve ever had to run. I started to try and make a move.

“I got pushed, cut up and spiked by Mateusz [Borkowski] which is why I guess he’s been disqualified, but I don’t know for sure. I then just had to keep my calm. It was so fast. I felt like I swam the last 400m just because of how choppy it was. It was a crazy one, but I’m in the final and that’s all that matters. 

“The men’s 800m is so unpredictable. There are two world champions in the race tomorrow, an outdoor world champion, an indoor world champion, a man who’s won six world titles and a bronze medallist from Doha, so it’s probably the most stacked indoor final that it could possibly be.

“I’ve just got to lean on those guys now. I’ve still got to get more medals to my name, but that’s where I pitch myself. The first job is to go and recover. I’ve got 23 hours to get back together and tomorrow I’ll go for the win. I want another medal.”

British medallists at the 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland:

Gold

Amy-Eloise Markovc (women’s 3000m)

Silver

Holly Archer (women’s 1500m)

Bronze

Verity Ockenden (women’s 3000m), Jodie Williams (women’s 400m), Holly Bradshaw (women’s pole vault)

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