Keely hopes for light amid tragedy
KEELY HODGKINSON hopes the European Indoor Championships are able to bring ‘some light in a dark time’ for Turkey.
The event is taking place in Istanbul less than a month after the earthquake which killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria, with a proportion of ticket sales going towards the relief fund. Turkish runner Emine Hatun Mechaal competed in last night’s women’s 3,000 metres heats despite mourning 50 relatives, neighbours and friends in her home city of Antakya. She was in tears after sealing the last qualifying place for the final, with her dad and brother cheering from the stands with broken legs caused by the earthquake. Mechaal, 27, said: ‘It was the happiest moment in the world because I almost lost them. ‘They slept for five days in the street. I feel proud because they were so happy. I have not been focused for the last three weeks. But I had to show people we can be together. ‘Children now need hope and they are the reason I am here.’
British star Hodgkinson earlier qualified fastest for Saturday’s 800m semi-final after winning her heat in 2min 01.67sec. The defending champion, who turns 21 today, said: ‘There was debate over whether they should put this on but I see it as a way to bring people together and bring some positivity.
‘We have spoken to some of the locals and they have said how it has really struck people all over Turkey. It is a tragic thing but hopefully the championships can bring some light in a dark time.’ Britain’s Neil Gourley qualified fastest for the men’s 1500m final, with George Mills — son of former England footballer Danny — joining him after beating Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen in his heat.