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West Wickham runner Thomas Keen plans to leave nothing to chance today in the 1500m heats at the European U20 Championships


By Sport Haverhill


Thomas Keen wants to leave ‘nothing to chance’ when he competes in the 1500m heats at the European U20 Championships in Sweden this afternoon, writes Alex Moss.

Thomas Keen won gold at the European U18 Championships last year Picture: European Athletics
Thomas Keen won gold at the European U18 Championships last year Picture: European Athletics

The 18-year-old, from West Wickham, won gold in the 3000m at the European U18 Championships in Hungary 12 months ago, and is now hoping for more success at the Ryavallen Athletic Stadium, in Boras, over the next few days.

Keen is one of 21 athletes, from 14 different countries, competing in the 1500m heats, which start at 4.32pm (local time) today, with places in Saturday’s final (6.15pm local time) up for grabs.

After following up a silver medal in the 1500m at the England U20 Championships, with a victory in the BMC Grand Prix European U20 Championships 3000m trial, Keen is feeling confident about his prospects of keeping up his recent good run.

“I’m quite excited,” the Cambridge & Coleridge AC athlete said.

“It will be my first time in Sweden, so I’m looking forward to that. I think the heats are going to be quite interesting.

“The aim is first to definitely get through the heats. I don’t want to leave anything to chance in the heats, so I’ll be aiming to keep up with the leaders and make sure I qualify for the final.

“I finished second in the 1500m nationals (last month) and that definitely gave me a lot of confidence.

“I then won a 3K trial for the Euros as well, but I decided to go for the 1500m because that has been my target all year. I always wanted to go for the 1500m.

“The 3K was just a side event, but I just so happened to gain selection for the 3K as well.”

With the current season drawing to a close, Keen views this week’s event in Sweden as his biggest competition of the year, and has highlighted British rival Josh Lay as one of his main threats for a possible podium.

“Josh Lay is going to Sweden as well,” he said. “He beat me by about a second in the nationals, but I definitely think I can go there and beat him. Getting my tactics right will be important.”

The British duo finished first and second in the 1500m final of last month’s England U20 Championships in Bedford.

In the heats, Keen came home in second, just 0.27 of a second behind Lay, to qualify for the final, and again it was Lay who narrowly came out on top.

The Rugby & Northampton runner clocked a winning time of 3:53.88, as Keen crossed the line in 3:55.68 to take the silver medal.

Lay will be the favourite to walk away with the gold again in Sweden this week, with his season best time of 3:41.38, which came in Watford last month and was also his personal best over the distance, the quickest of any of the field.

Arthur Gervais (3:42.11), of France, and Robin van Riel (3:42.44), from the Netherlands, have recorded the next two fastest times after Lay this season.

Keen’s season and personal best time of 3:43.97, clocked at the Loughborough International in May, is sixth on the list of entries, behind Belgium’s Ruben Verheyden (3:43.83) and Portugal’s Nuno Pereira (3:43.53), who complete the top five.

“(Making the switch from 3000m to 1500m) has been quite straightforward,” Keen said.

“It’s been about finding that bit more speed, as it’s over a shorter distance, but I’ve not found it too difficult adjusting from the 3K to the 1500m.”



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