Hodgkinson homes in on history | SERIES | WIC 22 – World Athletics
Keely Hodgkinson might be motivated most by medals, but the 20-year-old knows that running records – and relishing rivalries – will help her to get to them.
“From my career, I want to get as many medals as I can – I think that’s how you become one of the greatest ever,” says the British 800m standout. “Records are really nice, but they don’t always last, so I think medals are where you can really make a difference and write your name in the history book.”
Her campaign on both fronts has started strongly. Now the British record-holder both indoors and outdoors, the 1:55.88 that Hodgkinson ran in Tokyo secured her Olympic silver on her global championship debut and improved a national mark that had been set by double 2004 Olympic champion Kelly Holmes in 1995. Her next aim, fresh from a 1:57.20 indoors in Birmingham, is to get gold at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22, where she has been selected for the 800m and the 4x400m.
“My favourite thing to do is compete at championships, when there’s a bit of pressure and more at stake,” adds the British 400m silver medallist. “I like to go out there and do what I know I can do and come away with medals. That’s the goal.”
Hodgkinson runs 1:57.20 to win the 800m at the World Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Birmingham (© Getty Images)
Enjoyment is key and there’s no weight of expectation, as Hodgkinson instead embraces it. The support from her team, which includes coach Trevor Painter and world medallist Jenny Meadows in a relationship she describes as “like a second family”, is hugely important. Particularly after a winter that was interrupted by injury.
After recovering from an achilles issue before Christmas, Hodgkinson went on a training camp in South Africa and tore her quad. No longer able to open her 2022 season at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Karlsruhe as originally planned, Hodgkinson refocused on the Müller Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham. Once there, she became the sixth-fastest ever indoor women’s 800m runner, and had it not been for the injuries and missed training, Meadows believes her charge could have been in “world record territory”.
Turning 20 last week (3), Hodgkinson was coincidentally born on the exact date that the world indoor record of 1:55.82 was set. Should she win gold in Belgrade later this month, Hodgkinson – at 20 years and 17 days – would become the youngest women’s 800m champion in World Indoor Championships history.
“She was still in brilliant shape (in Birmingham),” Meadows told the Telegraph. “But honestly, I cannot tell you where she looked like she was going to be – it’s actually quite scary.”
There is no fear from Hodgkinson when it comes to facing her rivals, however, and the depth in her event both internationally and domestically has spurred Hodgkinson on. She won last year’s British outdoor title ahead of Jemma Reekie and Laura Muir to claim her first global championship team place at any level, and once at the Olympic Games she finished second to her fellow 19-year-old Athing Mu, who earlier in the year had superseded Hodgkinson as the world indoor U20 800m record-holder.
Hodgkinson and her rivals
How Hodgkinson stacks up against the women she’s set to face in Belgrade.