Keely Hodgkinson offers inspiration to fellow athletes at UK Indoor Championships
At this time last year, the 18-year-old student from Leeds Beckett University in Wigan was a relative unknown, heading into the 2021 campaign with hopes and dreams and only an inner belief that everything was coming together in the right place. moment.
But a groundbreaking indoor season sparked a remarkable rise that culminated in an Olympic silver medal in Tokyo and shows no signs of slowing down, judging by last week’s record-breaking feat at the same track. which she will honor this weekend.
It all started in Vienna last January, when she broke the 800m indoor world record for the under-20s with a time of 1:59.03 seconds and continued in Torun, Poland, in March, when Leigh Harrier won gold in the 800m at the European Athletics Indoor Championships, becoming Britain’s youngest winner of a European indoor title in more than half a century.
With his name now household name, the Leeds Beckett Talent Hub product and star pupil of Andrew Henderson, director of athletics at the university, delivered on the biggest stage of them all, winning a silver medal in the 800m at the Tokyo Olympics, breaking Dame Kelly Holmes’ national record with a time of 1:55.88.
Hodgkinson is only accelerating. Last week she beat a top-flight field at an international meet in Birmingham in a time of 1:57.20, the fastest indoor 800m performance by a woman in 20 years.
She was two seconds faster than the rest of the peloton.
“I wrote down the goals for this year and one of them was a British indoor record,” said Hodgkinson, who won’t turn 20 until next month.
“I was 100% fit for that record and just wanted to go for it and there were some good girls in that race.
“I have never raced in front of such a large British crowd and it was such a comfortable environment.”
“I really wanted to try to run in front. I hadn’t done that in so long, so I wanted to gain confidence with that.
“I did what I knew I had done in training and just ran the race.
“I was annoyed because I stumbled a bit on the last corner and I feel like it might have cost me a tenth of a second, but we’ll fix that next time and hopefully I can go faster. But I’m really happy with this race.
She may go faster this weekend in Birmingham, but only in the 400m, her only goal in these British championships.
So who could be ready to step out of the shadows this weekend and catapult their way to glory in a crowded summer of 2022 that will see World Championships in Athletics, European Championships and the Games of the commonwealth?
From Yorkshire there are a number of suitors.
European women’s 3,000m indoor champion Amy-Eloise Markovc, who is based in the United States but races for Wakefield Harriers, is the heavy favorite in the 1,500m. She achieved a personal best in Birmingham last weekend.
A strong field came together for the men’s 3,000m, including European 5,000m record holder Marc Scott (Richmond & Zetland) of Northallerton who, like Hodgkinson, made his Olympic debut in Tokyo.
In the men’s 200m, defending champion Andrew Morgan Harrison of Kingston Upon Hull is not entered but among the contenders watch out for Northern England champion Joe Ferguson of Leeds City Athletics Club.
In the men’s shot put, Tokyo Olympian Scott Lincoln (City of York) is a strong favorite to clinch a sixth indoor title. Lincoln has a two-yard advantage at the top of the shot standings and has his eye on a championship-best at 20.66m given he has thrown farther this winter.
Lucy Hadaway (City of York) has been a consistent athlete lately and a medal contender in the women’s long jump.
The men’s pole vault, for so long the domain of Barnsley Rio Olympian Luke Cutts, is still a title held by coach Trevor Fox at the Sheffield and Dearne club with Adam Hague the man looking to defend his title. He currently jointly holds the top championship.
In the men’s heptathon, Harry Maslen (Sam Stanislaus, Ilkley) will be looking to emulate shot putter Lincoln who is thriving in his twenties.
At stake are the British titles and the important featherweight qualifier for the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, March 18-20.
Not to mention the chance to follow Hodgkinson’s spikes unless she steals the show again.