ATHLETES:European Championships 2022: Keely Hodgkinson claims 800m gold


Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson won her first major outdoor title as she claimed gold in the women’s 800m at the European Championships.

Hodgkinson, 20, moved to the front with 200m remaining and took victory in one minute 59.04 seconds in Munich.

It is a second European title for Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Hodgkinson, who won indoor 800m gold as a teenager in 2021.

Britain’s men’s 4x400m relay team also won gold while the women took bronze.

Alex Haydock-Wilson held on under pressure from France and Germany following legs by 400m champion Matt Hudson-Smith, Charles Dobson and Lewis Davey, as the men’s quartet triumphed in 2:59.35.

The women’s team – Victoria Ohuruogu, Ama Pipi, Jodie Williams and Nicole Yeargin – then finished behind the Netherlands and Poland to make the podium.

Team-mate Jemma Reekie was the only athlete initially able to follow Hodgkinson in the closing stages, however she faded out of contention as France’s Renelle Lamote took silver ahead of Poland’s Anna Wielgosz.

Reekie, 24, finish fifth in 2:00.31, with fellow Briton Alex Bell sixth (2:00.68) and Ireland’s Louise Shanahan placing eighth (2:01.64).

“I think you can tell I was very happy to come here and finally get on top of the podium,” said Hodgkinson, who pointed to the sky with a beaming smile as she crossed the finish line.

“There is a great team around me that has helped me all season. It has been a hard year mentally but we’ve made it to the end with a gold and two silvers, so I’m really happy.”

Asked how she has refocused after each championship, Hodgkinson said her desire for gold has driven her.

“Trying to get that gold definitely helped,” she said. “I think it’s just about trying to forget and move on from it. Now I can go home with three medals, I couldn’t be happier.

“I still have a world indoor medal that I don’t have yet and I still have a lot of silvers, so we’re going to try and get some golds. I’ve still got a long way to go.”

Ambitious Hodgkinson ‘wants to be a legend’
Keely Hodgkinson
Keely Hodgkinson holds both the women’s indoor and outdoor British 800m records
Hodgkinson lost out to American Olympic champion Athing Mu by 0.08 seconds at the World Championships in Eugene in July, before she was denied gold by Kenya’s Mary Moraa at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham a fortnight ago.

But they remain the only two athletes to beat the Briton over the two-lap race this year after she executed her plan to perfection at Munich’s Olympiastadion.

Reekie, 24, who was beaten to Olympic bronze by 0.09secs last summer, suffered after trying to follow Hodgkinson – who pulled away down the home straight to ensure a perfect end to her season.

The Wigan athlete broke Kelly Holmes’ 26-year British record as she won Olympic silver in Tokyo in a breakthrough 2021, a year that also saw her claim the British and Diamond League 800m titles in addition to her European indoor success.

She opened her 2022 season by producing a British indoor record – and the fastest indoor 800m performance by a woman in 20 years – at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham in February.

Hoping to challenge for major international titles, Hodgkinson was forced to withdraw from the World Athletics Indoor Championships with a quad injury in March.

But she has responded to that setback with three superb performances – with this final run after an exhausting summer delivering the gold she desperately wanted.

Hodgkinson is trained by Trevor Painter and his wife Jenny Meadows, the 2010 silver medallist who was watching from the BBC studio.

“I’m so relieved for her,” said Meadows. “She’s ambitious. She wants to be a legend of the sport. She wants to win everything multiple times. Aged 20, she has the time to do that.

“This is her moment. She knows how fickle sport can be. She could get injured, the next person could come through – as Moraa did at the Commonwealths. She is going to take every opportunity she can right now.”

‘Everyone in this team has a story’ – relay joy for GB
Haydock-Wilson, the 400m bronze medallist, and Davey competed alongside Joseph Brier and Rio Mitcham as Britain’s men’s quartet finished in the third and final automatic qualification place in their heat on Friday.

Bolstered by the inclusion of individual champion Hudson-Smith and 22-year-old Dobson, the men’s team led from start to finish in the final following Hudson-Smith’s opening leg, with Haydock-Wilson measuring his effort to ensure he had enough left to seal victory.

Comparing his two European successes this week, Hudson-Smith said: “This one feels a lot better and a lot sweeter because we have a team. This is honestly amazing.”

The 27-year-old admitted he had struggled with his mental health over recent years as he battled with injury, debt and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have a great support system and without them I wouldn’t be here,” Hudson-Smith added. “I have the future right next to me [his 4x400m team-mates]. The four-by-four boys are back and we’re here to take over.”

Haydock-Wilson said: “We’re back and this is not it – this is the beginning of this team. Everyone in this team has a story, we believe in each other, we love each other.

“What Matt has come back from over the last four years, Charlie with injuries, Lewis who has been coaching himself since his coach passed away a few years ago, we all have something to fight for.”

Ohuruogu and Yeargin were part of Britain’s world bronze medal-winning team in Eugene in July – and they took third again in Munich.

Yeargin was overhauled by the Netherlands’ talented 400m and 400m hurdles champion Femke Bol, and Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek despite a 49.7secs final leg as the team finished under a second off gold in 3:21.74.


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