On a rainswept night when Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen successfully completed the defence of his European 1500 and 5000m titles, Konstanze Klosterhalfen became the latest German athlete to discover the golden properties of sonic home support here as she earned a superb victory in the women’s 5000m final at the Munich 2022 European Athletics Championships on Thursday (18), part of the multi-sport European Championships.
The 25-year-old, who was so disappointed at finishing one place off a medal in the earlier 10,000m, came home in 14:50.47 after a long pursuit of Yasemin Can, the Kenyan-born Turkish runner who had won the title at the longer distance and was seeking to reproduce the 5000/10,000 double she achieved when she announced her breakthrough at the 2016 European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam.
Just as she had in the 10,000m final, Can pushed decisively ahead as the race moved into the second half, and she gained a 10 metres lead from Klosterhalfen and Great Britain’s seemingly indefatigable 10,000m silver medallist Eilish McColgan.
But as the noise levels rose, the lead diminished, with both pursuers, ponytails swinging, making it clear that they were not going to let Can run clear as she had in the 10,000m final. As the lead trio came round with two laps remaining McColgan was fading, but the home runner was closing in on the greatest win of her career.
On the home straight Klosterhalfen - who failed to qualify from last month’s World Championship 5,000m heats after recovering from coronavirus - had made her move and passed the Turkish runner, and the decibel level rose. But Can was not finished either and there was only a couple of metres in it at the bell.
Gradually, inexorably, the cocktail of determined athlete and energised crowd lengthened the gap between the lead pair. Klosterhalfen looked almost agonised with joy as she crossed the line, with Can second in 14:56.91 and an exhausted McColgan, who now has Commonwealth gold and silver and European silver and bronze, third in 14:59.34.
“The audience carried me so much,” Klosterhalfen said. “After those two difficult years, to win a gold medal at European championships on home soil, this is just amazing, I have tears of joy. I am on cloud nine. I do not have words to describe my feelings. It is a dream come true. The crowd gave me everything."
Ingebrigtsen completes 1500/5000m double double
Earlier, the 21-year-old Olympic 1500m champion Ingebrigtsen had shown customary ruthlessness as he took a grip on the race in the first 300 metres and never let go, winding up the pace before concluding with an irresistible last lap of 55.25.
Spain’s Mario Garcia had moved up to the Norwegian as they rounded the final bend, but in the space of a few strides he was contesting silver rather than gold – and losing it, as Britain’s Tokyo 2020 finalist Jake Heyward, judging his race beautifully, passed him to take second place in 3:34.44, with Garcia earning bronze in 3:34.88 from Italy’s Pietro Arese, who clocked a personal best of 3:35.00.
“I felt I have this speed in my legs today so I wanted to go fast from the beginning,” Ingebrigtsen said.
“I wanted to have a fast race and I wanted to win. Also, when I heard the great home crowd cheering for us and I also saw so many Norwegian flags in the stands, it was a great motivation for me today.
“The fans here are just awesome. The rain - it feels almost like at home. Rain feels good. I am very glad I managed this double and the Championships record is a nice bonus.”
The men’s 200m semifinal runners were the first to brave the conditions following the earlier suspension of competition due to a weather warning, and while the rain had abated the conditions were still distinctly chilly as they got away.
Zharnel Hughes, Britain’s Commonwealth silver medallist and 100m silver medallist here earlier this week, topped qualifying in 20.19, from his compatriot Charles Dobson on 20.21 and Filippo Tortu, anchor leg runner in Italy’s Tokyo 2020 4x100m victory, who clocked 20.29.
Israel’s Blessing Afrifah, who won the World U20 200m title in Cali earlier this month in a European U20 record of 19.96, finished third in the first heat in 20.34 but progressed as a fastest loser.
The women’s 200m semifinals featured a welcome appearance from Britain’s defending champion Dina Asher-Smith, who had slowed to a virtual halt in the women’s 100m final with what looked like a recurrence of the recurring hamstring problem that first emerged last year during her preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics but later emerged to be cramp.
Asher-Smith, looking unusually intent before and after a race which she had joined as one of the 12 top-ranked sprinters with a bye from the heats, well clear and was fastest qualifier for tomorrow’s final in 22.53, followed by Denmark’s Ida Karstoft on 22.73 and Switzerland’s 100m silver medallist by five thousandths of a second, Mujinga Kambundji, on 22.76.
Full results here.