The return of middle distance and Duplantis’ dominance: things we learned from the 2021 European Indoor Championships

Heading into the 2021 European Indoor Championships, Great Britain were reportedly targeting between six and 10 medals – but they finished with a record-equalling 12.

The team matched their tally from Glasgow 2019 after incredible performances from the likes of Keely Hodgkinson and Jodie Williams, who overcame her medal demons to leave Poland with a silver and a bronze.

With the Olympics on the horizon, what were things we learned from Torun?

A revival of the golden past of British middle distance

After Steve Cram and Sebastian Coe captured the imagination of the British public in the 1980s and Kelly Holmes won 800m and 1500m gold at Athens 2004, a lot of the focus on international athletics has come in shorter distances.

However, 19-year-old Hodgkinson became Britain’s youngest European Indoors champions since 1970, and evoked memories of Holmes’ Olympic efforts with a tremendous performance at her debut in a major senior international championships.

Cram, the 1983 world champion over 1500m, said: “Today Hodgkinson showed real maturity and showed how strong she can be when she needed to turn it on.

“There’s a lot to be happy with.”

Despite a whole host of big names missing in Torun, the future looks bright for Britain in middle distance events.

Laura Muir, the winner at the last two European Championships in Belgrade and Glasgow, declined to defend her title as she focuses on Olympic preparation.

She joined Elliot Giles in opting out of the tournament as Giles, who ran the second-fastest indoor 800m ever recently, also has his sights set on the Tokyo Olympics.

With Jemma Reekie also missing out, there are plenty of British names to get excited for when it comes to middle distance athletics.

Despite Muir missing the tournament, Amy-Eloise Markovc picked up the pieces to win gold at the European Indoor Championships in Poland.

Markovc marked her championship debut with a personal best time of eight minutes 46.43s to defeat teammate Verity Ockenden, who claimed bronze.

She said: “It’s difficult coming into your first championship and being nervous because you haven’t competed on the big stage before, but I wanted to take every opportunity.

Williams ends medal drought

After seven years without a medal, team GB captain Williams won bronze in the 400m before taking silver in the 4x400m relay alongside Jessie Knight, Ama Pipi and Zoey Clark.

There was some attention on Williams before the event, and her performances ensured that team manager Christian Malcolm’s faith in her was justified.

She said: “I came here to prove to myself that I can get on podiums again.

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs in my career but I have learned how to fight again. For sure, I have my mojo back.”

The pole vault competition starts and ends with Armand Duplantis

Swedish superstar Armand Duplantis is a in a league of his own when it comes to the pole vault, and he cemented his status at the top with a dominant performance in Torun.

He cleared 5.85m at his first attempt to lead on his own and broke the championship record with a second-time clearance of 6.05m.

Duplantis failed to beat his own best and set a new world record of 6.19m, but he admitted that the jump was still impressive.

The Swede said: “I wanted the championship record but the gold was the important thing.

“Jumping six metres is still special.”

Check out the rest of SWL’s coverage here.

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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