Keely Hodgkinson has won silver medals in the Olympics in August 2021. In 2022, she took silver in the World Championships in the 800 meters in her match-up against Athing Mu. In that race, Keely became the athlete who came closest to defeating the NCAA Champion, USATF Champion, World Champion, and Olympic champion.
Her silver at the Commonwealth Games was an upset, but it seemed to keep her on her toes. In the European championships, Keely Hodgkinson ran one of her most poised races. Well, don’t get all the good stuff from me; Stuart Weir has traveled halfway around the world and back to cover this fine British middle distance runner.
And obviously, there is much more to come from this fine athlete.
Three Brits in Women’s 800 final
What an 18 months it has been for Keely Hodgkinson! European indoor champion, Olympic silver medalist, Diamond League champion, World silver medalist, Commonwealth silver medalist, and now European champion.
She summed up her feelings: “I’m definitely really happy to have finished the season with this special gold medal. I felt like the race could have gone a few different ways. I thought I would sit back a little bit and see what everyone else would do. I got to 250m in a good position and I set it up well to attack the last 120 and I had enough to bring it home.
“This one means a lot. I’ve got a great support team around me who have helped me to mentally get through the season. There have been a lot of changes for myself as I’ve adapted to professional athlete life, but I am living out my childhood dreams, so I really cannot complain”.
There were three British girls in the race, so UK expectations were high. The result was:
1 Keely Hodgkinson (GB) 1:59.04
2 Renelle Lamote (France) 1:59.49
3 Anna Wielgosz (Poland) 1:59.87
4 Lore Hofmann (Switzerland) 1:59.92
5 Jemma Reekie (GB) 2:00.31
6 Alex Bell (GB) 2:00.68
7 Christina Hering (Germany) 2:00.82
8 Louise Shanahan (Ireland) 2:01.64
Fifth place was a bitter-sweet finish for Jemma Reekie, who had glandular fever (mononucleosis) in February and is still recovering. She told me afterward: “I ran it tactically OK, but I just didn’t have the energy on the home straight. It was always going to be risky running the Europeans three days in a row. Some days I have been finding it tough just to come out and do one race.
“Andy [Young, her coach] and I both knew that if it was a good day, I could go out and challenge Keely and was hoping to win it. But I never know if it is going to be a good day until I am in the race, and today my energy just was not there.
“I have got to take the positives, and I think it shows that I am nearly there and what I will be able to do next year. I think I have learned a lot this season, and I think I will come back a lot stronger. I’ve known that I can run 1:58 when I am not 100%. I take that as a positive ahead of next year, and I will be fully healthy by then”.
Alex Bell said: “I’m sixth in Europe, so I’m absolutely delighted. I was in contention as we went into the second lap; then, I saw Keely go out for it, and I just had too much to do on the final bend. I tried to get around the Polish athlete, which forced me wide, and I ultimately paid for that in the final bit of the race. But from where I was coming into this summer, I’m really pleased with myself for being a European finalist and giving it my best.
“There have been some bumps in the road across the season. It really only got going when I was in Eugene for the Worlds. So to jam-pack so many races into a few weeks, I am happy with what we have done and the progress we have made. I’m looking forward to resting now and going again for next year! I’m excited to get out there again”.
British middle-distance running is in a good place, and it is encouraging to see the three athletes looking forward to next year.