Polish runner beats Norwegian teenager in 1500m, while Jamie Webb wins medal for home nation in 800m at Euro Indoors in Glasgow
Speed and experience triumphed in a slow, tactical metric mile when fast-finishing Marcin Lewandowski out-kicked Jakob Ingebrigtsen in 3:42.85.
The 31-year-old Pole successfully defended his title and denied Ingebrigtsen a golden double after the young Norwegian’s victory in the 3000m on Saturday night.
After the field went through 400m in a pedestrian 63.74 and 800m in 2:06.34, the race played into the hands of Lewandowski – a master of indoor tactics and armed with an 800m best of 1:43.79.
Ingebrigtsen began to wind it up with just over 300m to go but Lewandowski was so confident he hit the front at the bell and held off his 18-year-old rival with a 26.2 final 200m.
The winner insisted he was ready to win the race whether it was fast or slow, though.
“I always said that speed from the 800m is going to be my weapon in a 1500m, but I was ready to run under 3:35 here,” said Lewandowski. “It was going to be a problem for Ingebrigtsen to work out how to beat me and not the other way around.”
Ingebrigtsen clocked 3:43.23 for second and must surely have rued the early pace? “Not at all,” he said. “I’m a quick man! I was putting myself in the best position I could to win today but unfortunately Lewandowski was a bit stronger at the end, so I’m really happy with silver.”
Perhaps Ingebrigtsen was tired after his weekend exertions. “I’m ready for another race!” he smiled. “This championships is a bonus for me, really fun and good experience for me. The most important part is the outdoor season.”
Behind, Jesus Gomez of Spain took bronze in 3:44.39 while Britain’s Robbie Fitzgibbon was eighth in 3:47.08 and his GB team-mate Neil Gourley did not start due to illness.
There was success for Britain in another men’s middle-distance event on Sunday, though, when Jamie Webb enjoyed the race of his life to win 800m silver in his biggest competition to date as he finished runner-up in an indoor PB of 1:47.13 to Alvaro de Arriba of Spain.
Disqualified after finishing first in the British Championships, Webb ran a superb tactical race but De Arriba was too strong in the closing stages to clock 1:46.83.
The Spaniard was fifth in last year’s World Indoor Championships and he improved from his bronze from these championships in 2017. His outdoor PB is 1:44.99 and his indoor best is 1:45.43 and he said: “It’s an important moment for me. Everything went spectacular and I’m in good form both physically and mentally.”
De Arriba stayed at the back and was sixth at 200m in 26.46 as Andreas Kramer led in 25.94 and fifth at 400m in 53.76 as Andreas Bube burst into the lead with 53.38. The Spanish runner then made his move just before the bell as he kicked in a 12.96 100m to lead through 600m in 80.22 and a 12.98 follow up extended his lead to three metres which he held to the end to win with a slightly quicker 53.07 second half.
Webb had been third at 400m in 53.50 and led through 500m when he felt the pace slow and he was still second at 600m in 80.39 and he closed slightly on De Arriba in the last 100m and gritted his teeth to hold the runners behind at bay.
The Harris Academy teacher in South Norwood said: “I’m over the moon. There were some big names and my dad (and coach) said don’t give them the respect. As soon as the pace dropped today, I took it to them. On the last lap, the crowd were unreal and I held them yelling. It’s a blur and they carried me, although De Arriba was as strong as hell.”
Behind the Briton, it was Ireland’s Mark English who proved the strongest and he finished third in 1:47.39. English, who was added to the final despite finishing last in his semi-final after being baulked by Guy Learmonth but successfully appealing, said: “It means everything to me. I’m delighted to come away with a medal for Ireland.”
Highly-rated former world outdoor medallist Amel Tuka finished sixth and European silver outdoor medallist Kramer faded to seventh and last.
The Borlee family may now be overshadowed by the Ingebrigtsens but Belgium, boosted by the three brothers, won 4x400m gold but Spain gave them a surprisingly good race.
Julien Watrice brought them in second (46.8) behind 400m runner-up Oscar Husillos (46.4), while Dylan Borlee (46.5) took the lead as he passed Manuel Guijarro in leg two.
On the third leg, Jonathan Borlee looked to give Belgium a good lead but faded badly in the straight and his 46.75 lost a lot of ground as Lucas Bua gave Spain a good lead with a 45.75 which was easily the fastest of his race.
Kevin Borlee soon closed it down and went clear but faded in the straight as he ran 46.20 as Bernat Etra closed and fell just 0.05 down with a 46.96 as Belgium won in 3:06.27 from Spain’s national record 3:06.32.
Cameron Chalmers gave Britain a fine start with a 46.8 to come in third on leg one. Joe Briar kept them in contention with a 47.1 though Thomas Somers lost ground at the start of his leg when the Pole Tymoteusz Zimny cut across him but kept them not far back on third with a 47.28.
On the last leg, Alex Haydock-Wilson soon made up the ground ahead with an extravagant first 200 and moved up to fourth at the bell just behind Poland as they entered the straight but it was France who finished strongest to take the bronze in 3:07.71.
Haydock Wilson paid for his burst in the straight and slowed and ran 47.22 for his leg as Britain’s inexperienced squad finished fifth in 3:08.48 just behind the Poles.
As expected, Poland won the final event of the championships – the women’s 4x400m – to ensure they topped the medal table though Britain excelled to run them much closer than anticipated and take a glorious silver medal to consolidate their most successful ever championships.
Anna Kielbasanka gave the Poles a narrow lead on leg one with a 52.4 though Laviai Nielsen, who just missed out on making the individual team, ran her close with a 52.6.
The race looked over on leg two as Iga Baumgartl-Witan, who had disappointed in her individual event, blasted a 51.4 to give the Poles a ten metre lead over Zoey Clark, who ran a controlled 52.3.
Poland extended the advantage on leg three as Malgorzata Holub-Kowalik ran 52.63 to extend the lead by another four metres as 18-year-old Amber Anning, making her indoor 4x400m debut, ran a 53.11 and only Italy, who were four metres back in third, looking the only likely challengers to Britain coming second.
It seemed a formality as European outdoor champion Justyna Swiety-Ersetic set off with a huge lead but Eilidh Doyle gradually closed on her opening lap and left Italy well behind.
On the last lap, the gap closed further as Doyle ran a brilliant 51.44 compared to the Pole’s 52.28 as Poland won in 3:28.77, compared to Britain’s championship best of 3:27.56.
Britain were second in 3:29.55 and Italy third in 3:31.90.
Even individual champion Lea Sprunger only ran a 51.7 on Switzerland’s second leg.
Earlier on in the evening, Andrew Pozzi had been left frustrated to not join in the medal success of many of his host-nation team-mates. Feeling like he was in form to win, despite being on the comeback after injury, the defending 60m hurdles champion had to settle for sixth in a race won by Milan Trajkovic of Cyprus.
“Tonight I really could have won that final and that is what is so frustrating because I was great in warm up and the first two rounds have been so easy and relaxed, I think the only problem with that is I hadn’t practiced the timing at full speed,” said the Briton, who clocked 7.68.
“It’s entirely my fault on the night because I was there to win that.
“It’s been a great team performance, I think. I really felt like I should have added to that.”
Trajkovic clocked 7.60 ahead of French duo Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and Aurel Manga with 7.61 and 7.63 respectively.
In terms of a career high so far, Trajkovic said qualifying for the 2016 Olympic final ranks top but that his win in Glasgow has proved his hard work. “It’s more than I wanted at the beginning of the season,” he added.
With a heptathlon PB of 6467, Nadine Visser would have been a medal contender in the pentathlon in Glasgow. But she focused on sprint hurdles this weekend and impressed with a European lead of 7.87 to win gold in emphatic style.
The 24-year-old from the Netherlands ripped away from her rivals in the 60m hurdles as Cindy Roleder of Germany took silver in 7.97 with Elvira Herman of Belarus 3rd in 8.00.
Fastest qualifier, Luca Kozak, did not start after twisting her ankle celebrating her semi-final win.
» See the March 7 edition of AW magazine for in-depth coverage of the championships