Hodgkinson into 800m semi-final at European Indoors

Defending champion Keely Hodgkinson eased into the semi-finals of the 800m at the European Indoors Championships on Thursday to give herself a perfectly-timed birthday present.

The British star, who was crowned European outdoor champion over the distance last year and improved the national 800m indoor mark to 1:57.18 over the winter, turns 21 on Friday.

"It will be a nice birthday present to myself if I can defend my title," she told the BBC before adding of the weekend final: "I'm looking forward to it and hopefully I can do everyone proud."

Hodgkinson clocked 2:01.67 on Thursday in her heat.

Germany's Majtie Kolberg registered the second best time of the heats with 2:01.94. The semi-finals are on Saturday with the final set for Sunday.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who is chasing a 1500m/3000m double at the championships, also made it through his first test.

The Norwegian runner, Olympic gold medallist in the 1500m in Tokyo, clocked 3:50.29 over the distance on Thursday to make the next round.

It was enough for third place in his heat behind Azeddine Habz and George Mills.

Neil Gourley, who set a British record last weekend, registered the best time of the heats with 3:41.18.

Ingebrigtsen was pipped to outdoor world 1500m gold by Jake Wightman in Eugene last year, but with the Briton recovering from injury, he is a clear favourite for both golds in Istanbul.

The final of the 1500m is on Friday while the 3000m comes to a conclusion on Sunday.

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