Distance runner wins Britain’s first title at 2018 championships in Gyor as he takes 3000m

Thomas Keen got Britain’s medal hopes off to a flying start at the European U18 Championships as he won the men’s 3000m title the first day in Gyor, Hungary.

Keen, who turned 17 last month, clocked 8:27.38 to beat Omer Amactan of Turkey (8:28.04) as Ryan Oosting of the Netherlands was third (8:22.22).

“To win in a big international competition, I can’t believe it,” he told European Athletics. “I trusted my training. I was the quickest coming into the event and came into it with confidence. I just needed to get the job done and make sure everyone was proud of me – that’s what it’s all about.”

Keen was inspired to take up athletics after watching the London Olympics in 2012 and soon after joined the Cambridge & Coleridge club and began to be coached by Mark Vile.

He added: “It’s one thing to run a quick time but to do it in the race, on the day when everyone is using you as a target and trying to beat you, it’s really hard.

“I knew it’d be a burn up in the last kilometre but I do a lot of speedwork in the summer so I thought I’d be okay. And I knew when I made my move I had to make it hard.”

Next for Keen is the New Balance English Schools Championships in Birmingham next week. He won English Schools 3000m gold last year and silver at the cross country championships in Leeds behind Matthew Willis in March.

The first gold of the championships in Gyor, meanwhile, went to Hanna Zubkova of Belarus as she took the women’s 5000m walk in 22:45.47.

Elsewhere, Cassie-Ann Pemberton of Britain led the semi-final qualifiers in the girls’ 100m with 11.56.

In the women’s 800m heats, Sophie O’Sullivan, daughter of Irish endurance legend Sonia, was among the heat winners with 2:12.23, while Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson also qualified.

» See the July 12 issue of AW magazine for full coverage