Alexandra Bell keeps medal hopes alive after difficult 800m heat

·2-min read
Alexandra Bell in action during the at Olympiastadion during the European Championships 2022.

Alexandra Bell battled through one of the worst tactical races of her career to keep her medal hopes alive at the multi-sport European Championships.

The Leeds middle distance star finished second in her Thursday morning heat as a time of 2:02.43 hauled her into the semi-finals as an automatic qualifier.

But Bell struggled to pull together a cohesive race plan and only narrowly scraped past Irish ace Louise Shanahan at Munich’s Olympic Stadium.

French star Rénelle Lamote won the early morning 10am contest and Bell, who finished sixth at the Commonwealth Games this summer, admits she will need to sharpen up if she is to reel the frontrunners in on Friday night.

The 29-year-old said: “I feel tactically, that was probably one of the worst put-together races I’ve done.

“But then it’s not how you do it, it’s getting there that’s the main thing.

“It’s quite a relief – it’s the first time in quite a while I have actually got through as an automatic qualifier and I don’t have to wait, so it’s a really good feeling.

“I'm very happy that I was on an automatic qualifier. I felt I was a bit rusty with the way the tactics panned out, but I had to trust and believe that after that first slow lap, I would have that last kick to push on.

“I was more nervous about the timings this morning. I usually train at this time, but I don’t usually have to get up at 6:30am to prepare for it!”

Bell finished seventh in the Olympic final last summer as she ran a brilliant personal best of 1:57.66 in Tokyo.

But she’s struggled with a stop-start 2022 campaign after an early season injury derailed her progress for the World Championships in Oregon.

Bell finished seventh in her Eugene semi-final as teammate Keely Hodgkinson, who burst onto the scene with silver in Tokyo last summer, emulated those exploits on the world stage.

The Yorkshire star then flew the Team England flag in Birmingham before preparing to draw her big championship season to a close this week.

And she reckons the unconventional chronology of her campaign has got her firing all cylinders in Bavaria.

Bell added: “Of course, there is some fatigue but I had a really delayed start to my season.

“I didn’t start it until just before the World Championships.

“So if anything, I am just coming into prime form now and have something left.”

The multi-sport European Championships Munich 2022, featuring Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Canoe Sprint, Cycling, Gymnastics, Table Tennis, Triathlon, Rowing, Sport Climbing, takes place 11th-21st August on the 50th anniversary of the Olympics Games in the German city. Watch daily live coverage across BBC One, Two, Red Button, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website