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Cambridge & Coleridge athlete Thomas Keen selected for Great Britain for 1,500m at European U20 Championships in Boras, Sweden

Thomas Keen has been selected for the British team for the European U20 Championships in Boras, Sweden later this month.

The 18-year-old from West Wickham will compete over the 1500m at the international athletics meeting, with the men’s heats due to take place on Thursday, July 18 before the final on Saturday, July 20.

Coach Mark Vile said the Cambridge & Coleridge AC athlete was ‘very confident and thinks he can get a medal’, despite being in his first full season focused on the event. Keen previously competed over 3000m and is reigning European U18 champion having secured the title at last year’s U18 Championships.

Thomas Keen wins European Under-18 Championships gold. Picture: European Athletics. (13604281)
Thomas Keen wins European Under-18 Championships gold. Picture: European Athletics. (13604281)

But, with the 3000m a junior event, Vile said they had decided to drop down to the shorter distance this year.

“Tom’s still learning the event so I would say the goal is experience,” he said. “But he would say he’s very confident and thinks he can get a medal, which is great to hear. I don’t want to dampen his enthusiasm.

“I believe he is ranked eighth in Europe right now, so it would be a big ask.

“But he has a racing brain, as he showed last year at the U18s, so who knows, he’s certainly capable of a personal best performance – he’s already taken five seconds off his best time this year.”

He said that Keen had been sidelined for a whole month in April with injury, which had seen them fall behind in their preparation.

“It’s not ideal when that happens,” Vile added.

“But he came back really strongly and opened up with a new PB time of 3:48 before going on to knock that five seconds off a few weeks later, achieving his new PB (3:43.97) in the Loughborough International.

“That race was also where he achieved the qualifying time (3:45), so he’s already progressed so much this year.”

Keen, who did not receive an automatic qualifying spot for the U20 Championships after coming second at the British Trials – the England Athletics U20 Championships in Bedford on June 22/23 – to Josh Lay.

But he did get the nod in the second round of selections, which were announced by British Athletics on Monday.

Vile said Keen is due to fly out to Boras on Tuesday, with his ‘support team’ of family, friends and coach following on Wednesday.

“He’s in good shape, is a very confident runner and he has plenty of talent,” Vile said.

“And he coped with the expectation so well at the U18 Championships that it bodes very well for him.

“Plus, having won the 3000m British trials as well, the strength of the longer distance will definitely help him.”

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