Keely Hodgkinson, setting British NR for 800m, fastest anywhere in 20 years! photo by Getty Images for British Athletics
Keely Hodgkinson ran a new British Indoor, all-comers record and best time at 800m indoors in the world in 20 years! And this was her first performance of the year. In this article, Stuart Weir gives us the behind the scenes info that makes this race so spectacular!
The women’s 800m was a fitting climax to the program at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham with Keely Hodgkinson winning in 1:57.20 from Catriona Bisset who set an Australian record of 1:59.46, second. Natoya Goule (Jamaica) was third in 1:59.85.
It had emerged at the pre-event press conference that the existing world indoor record of 1:55.82 had been set by Jolanda Ceplak at the European Indoor Championships in Vienna on 3 March 2002, the day Hodgkinson was born. For those who like bizarre stats, Hodgkinson’s time on Saturday was, therefore, the fastest indoor 800m in her lifetime!
It was also a British record, a British all-comers record, a stadium record, and the fastest ever indoor performance by a teenager. And, according to World Athletics, leaves her sixth on the world indoor all-time list.
Keely Hodgkinson runs 1:57.20 at Muller Indoor GP, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics
It has been a remarkable year and a bit for Hodkinson. I first became aware of her when she ran 1:59.03 in Vienna as an 18th-year-old. She then went to the European Indoors and won. She took silver in Tokyo in 1:55.88 and won the Diamond League final in Zurich in 1:57.98. Vienna was her first sub-2-minute run, something she repeated 8 times last year.
Hodgkinson followed the pace-maker with only Natoya Goule anywhere close as she approached the bell. A final lap of 28.8 saw her home comfortably.
She said afterward: “I wrote down the aims for this year and one of them was a British indoor record and I just want to build on this year. I was 100% in shape for this record and I just wanted to go for it and there were some good girls in that race”.
Hodgkinson, whose entire elite career has been during the pandemic, added: “I’ve never run in front of a British crowd this big and it was such a comfortable environment.” She also confirmed that she believed “doing all four major championships in 2022 is possible. My body, I think, will be able to but it comes down to the emotional and mental energy going from one to another.” The four, in order, are World Indoors, World Outdoors, Commonwealth Games, and European Championships.
Keely Hodgkinson, Muller Indoor GP Presser, photo by British Athletics
Of the Birmingham race, he told World Athletics that she had stumbled a bit on the last corner and lost some time “but we’ll just correct that next time and hope I can go quicker”.
Natoya Goule’s third place in 1:59.85 was a phenomenal achievement following her 1:58.46 in Lievin, France, less than 48 hours earlier. With severe storms in the UK and transport heavily disrupted. It had taken Goule most of Friday to travel to Birmingham. She tweeted: “Had a rough day traveling yesterday after competing Thursday and still was able to dip under 2:00s again. I’m grateful. To God be the glory”.