Keely Hodgkinson underlines great potential with commanding victory in 800m final

Was this simply the exuberance of youth or an authority naturally inherent in someone with such a rare abundance of talent? Athletes do not often do what Keely Hodgkinson managed in winning a European indoor 800-metre title four days after their 19th birthday. And if they do, it is certainly not in such commanding fashion.

For it was not only that Hodgkinson won gold on Sunday night, becoming the youngest British athlete to claim a title at these championships since 1970, it was the manner in which she did it; a manner that suggested Britain may have a future star on its hands.

From the moment she hit the front just 200 metres into the race, the decades of experience her rivals had over her counted for nothing and Hodgkinson dictated exactly as she desired. This teenager was not for passing. Gold in two minutes 3.88 seconds, but the time was irrelevant.

When Hodgkinson in January became the first British woman to break a world under-20 record for 36 years, her coach Jenny Meadows predicted the teenager could one day break double Olympic champion Kelly Holmes’ British record. Now she has started collecting medals to go with the fast times.

“I am so happy,” said Hodgkinson. “I’m only 19 and I’m still learning but I really believed in myself because if I don’t, who is going to?

Hodgkinson powers home to win gold in Poland  


Hodgkinson powers home to win gold in Poland  


Credit: GETTY IMAGES

“I’ve always thought it doesn’t matter how old you are, as long as you’re healthy and doing things right you can be capable of anything. You’ve just got to believe in yourself and not be intimidated by the older girls who may have a lot more experience than you. It’s been a crazy few weeks.”

Hodgkinson’s gold was one of seven medals for Britain on the final day of competition in Torun, Poland, and there was no more poignant moment than sisters Cindy Sember and Tiffany Porter both making the 60m hurdles podium, claiming silver in 7.89sec and bronze in 7.92sec respectively behind Dutch winner Nadine Visser.

For Sember it was the first international medal of her career, three years after she was told she would never run again following a ruptured Achilles. For her older sister Porter, who was the only athlete to compete in a face mask at these championships, it was a return to the podium after five years and a first medal since giving birth to her daughter in 2019.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Sember. “I’m just happy to be here and so happy to be able to do it alongside my sister. We’ve both been through a lot so it’s just amazing to win a medal.

“This is a lot of confidence for the Olympics. There’s a lot more in store and I’m super excited.”

Andrew Pozzi equalled his personal best in a thrilling 60m hurdles final, but was pipped to gold by France’s Wilhem Belocian by the finest of margins. The Briton’s time of 7.43sec was the fastest never to win gold at these championships, with Belocian’s dip seeing him triumph by 0.01sec.

“The better man won today,” said Pozzi. “I’m a bit disappointed but I gave everything I could. I am definitely in the best shape of my life. The winner’s time was incredibly fast so you just accept it. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite get the job done but we keep moving to the Olympic Games.”

Jamie Webb had been bullish about his intentions of upgrading his 800m silver from two years ago to gold here, but he was edged down to bronze in a frantic finish that saw Patryk Dobek lead a Polish one-two.

Zoey Clark, Jodie Williams, Ama Pipi and Jessie Knight combined to earn Britain a women’s 4x400m silver, while the men’s quartet of Joseph Brier, Owen Smith, James Williams and Lee Thompson won bronze.

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