Balham’s Katie Snowden raced for Great Britain in the women’s 1500m at the European Athletics Indoor Championship in Torun, Poland on Friday morning and then again on Saturday evening in a continental championship event which was screened live on prime time TV.
The Herne Hill Harrier ran superbly in her Friday heat qualifying for the final the following evening with a superb front running display. Lining up in the third and last of the heats she knew the results of the two previous races and her leading tactics ensured an even pace aiming for a finishing time that would see her progress as a fastest non automatic qualifier if she was not placed in the first two guaranteed qualifying positions. Her third place in her heat in 4:10.70 was just outside her season’s best and saw a safe passage through into what on paper looked to be a very open final in which both Snowden and her British team mate Holly Archer could feature after the latter had won the first heat.
The final was a very different affair as the entire field of nine athletes were bunched tightly together for the first kilometre of a very slow tactical race. Snowden positioned herself very well to this point, being well placed to cover any breaks at the front. However the race then became very messy as one or two athletes who were boxed in on the kerb jostled to try to get a clear run as the pace accelerated dramatically.
A group of six athletes charged ahead of Snowden during the mayhem and although now outside of the medals hunt she battled on to pass an athlete in the final 50m to finish a very creditable sixth in the messiest of 1500m races, as Archer crossed the line in second place.
There was a long wait before the final result could be confirmed after appeals and counter appeals, but eventually the result stood with Snowden having been temporarily promoted to fifth due to a disqualification decision which was then reversed to officially place her in the sixth position in which she had crossed the finish line. Her finishing time of 4:21.81, three seconds behind the race winner was largely irrelevant given the slow and scrappy nature of the race.
This was high drama for the BBC2 coverage during a weekend which provided an important opportunity to represent Team GB at a major event and will have been a big learning and motivational experience for the summer outdoor track season to come. Snowden will now begin her intense preparation to get herself ready for the biggest events of this year.