ISTANBUL: Defending champion Keely Hodgkinson eased into the semi-finals of the 800m at the European Indoors Championships on Thursday to give herself a perfectly-timed birthday present.
The British star, who was crowned European outdoor champion over the distance last year and improved the national 800m indoor mark to 1:57.18 over the winter, turns 21 on Friday.
“It will be a nice birthday present to myself if I can defend my title,” she told the BBC before adding of the weekend final “I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I can do everyone proud.”
Hodgkinson clocked 2:01.67 on Thursday in her heat. The semi-finals are on Saturday with the final set for Sunday.
Later Friday, Jakob Ingebrigtsen starts his bid for a 1500m/3000m double.
Ingebrigtsen was pipped to outdoor world 1500m gold by Jake Wightman in Eugene last year, but with the Briton recovering from injury, the Norwegian is a clear favourite for both golds in Istanbul.
The first round of the 1500m concludes Thursday’s action with the final on Friday. The final of the 3000m is set for Sunday evening.