Norwegian successfully defends European indoor 1500m title in Istanbul on Friday as British record-holder falls agonisingly short
Neil Gourley went into the 1500m final at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul on Friday night with new-found stamina, a withering sprint finish and, most importantly, the belief he could beat Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen to the line. Ultimately, though, the Norwegian prevailed, successfully defending his title, after a pulsating race that saw the two men separated by just 28 hundredths of a second at the finish.
This was the archetypal front-runner versus the classic kicker. To add to the drama there was even an unfortunate early-race pile-up.
“It was a good race and a good fight,” said Ingebrigtsen’s whose winning time of 3:32.95 was a championship record.
Gourley was left to rue his lost opportunity. With mixed feelings, he said: “I definitely believed I could win. He is who he is. He’s one of the best ever to do this so it’s always going to be hard to come up against someone like that.”
Gourley’s British team-mate, George Mills, was one of the casualties of the early incident and he was bumped to the floor before rising to complete the race in 11th place. “I’m raging,” he said. “I’d never drop out of a race no matter what happens and I’ll try to get up and fight to the end but obviously after falling you’ve got no chance.”
Ingebrigtsen did not go off at world record pace but he set an honest tempo as he went through 400m in 57.58, 800m in 1:55.47 and 1000m in 2:24.03. After almost getting tangled in the pile-up, Gourley sat in third during the early stages before moving into second place at 900m.
The duo drew away from their rivals and on the last lap it was a two-man race with Ingebrigtsen holding pole position as Gourley – who broke the British record five days earlier in Birmingham – poised to strike.
The tall Scottish runner made his move down the back straight but Ingebrigtsen determinedly held him off and maintained his lead around the final bend. Gourley then tried to kick again coming into the home straight but the Norwegian had a small gap and slightly more strength.
In third, Azzedine Habz of France capped a fine indoor season by making the podium. Jesus Gomez of Spain was fourth with Pietro Arese of Italy fifth.
“He made a good attack and I expected something to come and I responded fairly quickly,” said Ingebrigtsen.
Gourley was left…
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