DEFENDING champion Keely Hodgkinson cruised through the fastest-ever women’s 800m semi-final in European Athletics Championships history to secure her spot in tonight's final.

The two-time world and Tokyo Olympic silver medal winner clocked 1:58.07 to stake her spot as the fastest qualifier on day five of competition in Rome.

Fellow Britons Erin Wallace (1:59.89), who came sixth in Hodgkinson’s heat, and Alexandra Bell (2:00.57) narrowly missed out on the final.

Hodgkinson said: “This is way too early for me and less than 24 hours since the last race.

“I felt good - I think today I wanted to be a bit more where I was comfortable with on the pace.

“A couple of the girls were saying thank you afterwards because they got PBs.”

The tournament can be watched on BBC iPlayer - with Hodgkinson running in tonight's 800m final.