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Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen Wins European 5,000 Gold

By Jonathan Gault
August 18, 2022

Germany’s terrific performance at the 2022 European Athletics Championships in Munich continued on Thursday night as Konstanze Klosterhalfen won the country’s event-leading fourth gold medal by claiming the 5,000-meter title in 14:50.47. Turkey’s Yasemin Can, who won the 10,000 on Monday, claimed silver in 14:56.91 as Eilish McColgan ended a very busy championship season (she ran the 5,000/10,000 double at Worlds, Commonwealths, and Euros) by grabbing bronze in 14:59.34 to go with her silver in the 10,000.

Klosterhalfen, who got COVID in June shortly after running 14:37 in Oslo, did not even make the final at last month’s World Championships but came into Euros in much better shape. She was 4th behind Can, McColgan, and Israel’s Lonah Salpeter in the 10,000 in Munich, but turned the tables on them tonight to earn her first European gold.

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As in the 10,000, Can tried to break the race open by taking the lead just before the halfway mark and dropping a 68.91 lap from 2800 to 3200 meters (which she hit in 9:37.23). She succeeded in opening an eight-meter gap on Klosterhalfen and McColgan, but could not grow the lead, and by the time she hit two laps to go, Klosterhalfen had dropped McColgan and was right on Can’s shoulder.

Klosterhalfen, who trains under Pete Julian as part of the Nike Union Athletics Club, sent the German crowd into a frenzy by taking the lead on the back straight of the penultimate lap, and by the bell she was four meters clear. She ran her last lap in 66.89 to win by more than six seconds. After crossing the finish line, she grabbed a German flag and departed on a very speedy victory lap while most of the rest of the field, including McColgan, collapsed to the ground in exhaustion.

Results

1 7 448 GER KLOSTERHALFEN Konstanze 14:50.47
2 5 497 TUR CAN Yasemin 14:56.91
3 11 439 GBR MCCOLGAN Eilish 14:59.34
4 16 474 NED KOSTER Maureen 15:03.29
5 22 438 GBR MARKOVC Amy-Eloise 15:08.75
6 20 442 GBR THACKERY Calli 15:08.79
7 10 466 ITA BATTOCLETTI Nadia 15:10.90 SB
8 17 463 ISR TEFERI Selamawit 15:14.36 SB
9 2 456 HUN WAGNER-GYÜRKÉS Viktória 15:16.11 PB
10 19 427 FIN RICHARDSSON Camilla 15:16.71 PB
11 12 444 GER BENFARES Sara 15:20.94 PB
12 9 417 ESP GARCÍA Marta 15:23.36 PB
13 1 478 NED VAN ES Diane 15:26.44
14 15 458 IRL FLANAGAN Roisin 15:33.72
15 21 403 BEL ROOMS Lisa 15:50.59 PB
16 14 416 ESP GALLARDO Carla 15:52.64
17 6 422 ESP RUIZ Cristina 16:07.70
18 3 426 FIN MONONEN Ilona 16:10.97
19 13 430 FRA TRAPP Manon 16:15.44
DNF 4 450 GER REH Alina DNF
DNF 8 481 NOR GRØVDAL Karoline Bjerkeli DNF

Quick Take: Klosterhalfen is the first woman born in Europe to win this race since 2012

Klosterhalfen showed her talent with a bronze in the 5,000 at Worlds in 2019, but she wasn’t close to a medal in Tokyo last year (she was 8th in the 10,000 despite almost breaking her own German record) and struggled in Eugene this year. But with the pressure of a Euro champs on home soil, Klosterhalfen delivered tonight and was overjoyed with her victory.

“The audience carried me so much,” Klosterhalfen told meet organizers. “After those two difficult years, to win a gold medal at European championships on home soil, this is just amazing, I have tears of joy. I am on cloud nine. I do not have words to describe my feelings. It is a dream come true. The crowd gave me everything. At the beginning of the race I stayed in the group and when Can paced very hard I let her go and stayed patient. When I got closer to her I heard the crowd get so loud. I had so much adrenaline. I have to thank the crowd so much.”

The last three winners of this title before Klosterhalfen were all born in Africa — the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan in 2018 was born in Ethiopia, Turkey’s Can in 2016 was born in Kenya, and Sweden’s Meraf Bahta in 2014 was born in Eritrea. You’d have to go back to Russia’s Olga Golovkina to find the last European-born champion…though Golovkina was later banned after testing positive for PEDs in 2013.

In fact, all five winners of this race from 2002 through 2014 wound up serving doping suspensions: Spain’s Marta Dominguez (2002, 2006), Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse (2010), and Golovkina (2012). Klosterhalfen will hope to avoid joining that ignominious list.

Quick Take: Eilish McColgan will return home with four medals from this summer

In the last 34 days, McColgan has run six championship finals between Worlds, Commonwealths, and Euros. She finished 10th (10k) and 11th (5k) at Worlds but won medals in the other four races, with 10k gold and 5k silver at Commonwealths and 10k silver and 5k bronze at Euros.

“Honestly, I couldn’t ask for any more,” McColgan told meet organizers. “I knew it was going to be tough, and that I was going to be on tired legs – but I knew it would be tough for the other girls as well. The last couple of laps, I was just trying to hang on for that bronze medal. At some point, I thought maybe I could get gold, maybe I could get gold – honestly, I was just hanging on, I gave it all. I crossed the line knowing there was nothing more I could do, but I could leave the stadium happy.

“To be honest, it’s been a very emotional times for me with the Commonwealth Games, so I think what I’m most proud of – getting myself up to do another championship two weeks later, and to do the double again…I couldn’t have asked for more this year. I only had one medal, from the Europeans four years ago, and now I’ve added another four, I am so happy, and it’s hard to put into words what that means. I’m still missing European gold, but, honestly, I am delighted.

“I said to Koko, this is your moment, this is your crowd, and it made me remember how special Birmingham was for me – I am so happy for her, she is a great girl, we have met so many times. She’s had her ups as well, and her struggles. For her to bounce back, and come away with a medal tonight, it shows what an athlete she is. I am proud of myself for being in the mix, and to keep myself in the mix.”

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