Athletics: Muir and Johnson-Thompson take gold for Britain

GLASGOW (Reuters) – Host nation Britain enjoyed a golden start to the European Indoor Athletics Championships on Friday as Laura Muir successfully defended her 3,000 meters title and Katarina Johnson-Thompson completed a dominant victory in the pentathlon.

FILE PHOTO: Athletics – World Athletics Championships – men’s 1500 meters final – London Stadium, London, Britain – August 13, 2017 – Filip Ingebrigtsen of Norway celebrates winning the bronze medal. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Scot Muir, a huge favorite of the Glasgow crowd, is seeking a double-double having won the 3,000 and 1,500 in Belgrade two years ago and she wrapped up the first leg in style.

It was a particularly impressive performance by Muir given that 90 minutes earlier she ran a hard heat to qualify for the 1,500m final, which takes place on the evening of the final day of the three-day championships.

Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen made most of the running but Muir sat on her shoulder patiently before exploding clear at the bell with a devastating last 200m lap to win in a championship record eight minutes, 30.62 seconds.

Klosterhalfen, who took silver behind Muir in the European indoor 3,000m two years ago, finished a distant second, with Briton Melissa Courtney third.

“Hats off to Konstanze, she ran a great race and made me work really hard but I just knew I couldn’t lose it here, it’s my home track and I couldn’t not win,” Muir told the BBC.

“I had to hang on and trust in my kick. I was a bit worried, the (1500m) heat was quite fast and I had to work a bit harder than I would have liked but I’m so glad I decided to do the double.”

Johnson-Thompson, world champion in the pentathlon last year and European champion in 2015, was a strong favorite in the absence of Belgium’s Olympic, world and European heptathlon champion Nafissatou Thiam.

She dominated from first to last as solid performances in the 60 meters hurdles and high jump were followed by a personal best of 13.15metres in the shot put – her weakest event.

Johnson-Thompson returned for the evening session with a best-of-the field 6.53m long jump, giving her a huge cushion for the 800 meters finale which she also won.

“It was a really good day, I’m really happy with the performance and the points,” Johnson-Thompson said.

Fellow Briton Niamh Emerson, the 19-year-old who was world junior champion last year, had a day to remember by taking silver, ahead of 20-year-old Solene Ndama of France.

Earlier on Friday, Norway’s former European outdoor champion Filip Ingebrigtsen was disqualified in the heats of the 1500m for stepping off the track.

His younger brother and race favorite Jakob, 19, qualified safely for Sunday’s final and, along with the third brother Henrik, also went through to Saturday’s 3,000m final.

Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ed Osmond

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