3rd August 2021
KEELY HODGKINSON SEALS INCREDIBLE OLYMPIC SILVER MEDAL IN BRITISH RECORD
19-year-old Keely Hodgkinson (coach: Trevor Painter, club: Leigh) broke Kelly Holmes’s 26-year national record and scorched to Olympic silver, winning Team GB’s first 800m medal since 2004.
The rest of the two-lap field knew all about the danger of Hodgkinson’s kick but couldn’t stop her rising from fifth on the home bend to second in a stunning 1:55.88, behind only gold medallist Athing Mu (USA).
For an athlete who had originally targeted the European U20 Championships for this season, it was an incredible achievement and marks the British team’s first athletics medal of the Games.
“I’m more amazed about breaking the record than the medal,” said Hodgkinson.
“I’m pretty speechless. Kelly is a massive legend and she always will be. She seems so lovely, she’s sent us a few messages in the past couple of days and has been so supportive.
“She just gave us words of wisdom and she put a lot of belief in me. It’s nice to have someone like her who believes in me, because she’s amazing.
“It’s been a crazy nine months, but I’ve enjoyed every second of it. I’m in shock about the time but couldn’t be happier. I really executed that.”
Mu took the field out to a first lap of 57.9, with Jemma Reekie (Andy Young, Kilbarchan) the most prominent of the three Brits, Hodgkinson taking an inside line and Alexandra Bell (Andrew Henderson, Leeds) towards the back.
Reekie moved to the front coming into the back straight and Hodgkinson followed her move, with the Scot then taking the inside and the teenager flying past Habitam Alemu (ETH), Natoya Goule (JAM) and her team-mate.
Reekie finished fourth in a superb personal best of 1:56.90 and Bell also produced a 1:57.66 PB in her first major final for seventh position. Team GB couldn’t have asked any more of their first-ever trio of women to reach an Olympic 800m final.
“I definitely wanted a lot better than that,” said Reekie. “I know the time was good, but I’m in better shape than that.
“It’s just frustrating when you don’t perform it on the big stage because I’ve been flying in training.
“It’s frustrating but I’ll learn from it and come back stronger. I was trying to run my own race and trying to make it into those medal places, but it didn’t work out today.”
Bell said: “Tonight I was in such a blur; I was just trying to stay focused on my own race and stay in my own lane.
“After the first 200m I was out the back door and I thought the legs had come off already, so when I crossed the line and I saw the actual time flash up on the board, I was so surprised.
“It was amazing out there. Crowds or no crowds it was still an amazing track to be on.”
Out on the field, Harry Coppell (Scott Simpson, Wigan and District) produced a season’s best when it mattered most and cleared 5.80m to finish seventh in the men’s pole vault.
Coppell (Scott Simpson, Wigan and District) comfortably cleared 5.55, then 5.70 and 5.80 at the second attempt after a failure. He tried 5.87m, which would have been enough for a medal and a British record, three times but couldn’t clear the bar.
“It was an unreal experience,” he said. “Part of me is a little bit gutted because I had a great attempt at 5.87, but for my first Games this is amazing and it’s something we can build on.
“The field is unreal, and it’s been an incredible competition to be a part of. I jumped the best I possibly could, and I can’t believe I got seventh.”
Scott Lincoln (Paul Wilson, City of York) managed 20.42m in the men’s shot put which wasn’t enough for him to advance from the qualification round.
The top 12 mark fell at 20.90m, with Lincoln already having thrown a 21.28m personal best this season. He finished tenth in his group and 17th overall on Games debut.
In the men’s 110m hurdles, Andrew Pozzi (Santiago Antunez, Stratford-upon, Avon) came through a scrappy heat with 13.50 enough for fourth and automatic qualification.
The 2018 world indoor champion started well and clashed arms with Frenchman Wilhem Belocian in the next lane, who was disqualified, holding on to book a place in Wednesday morning’s semi-finals.
“My rhythm was very interrupted, so I’m happy to qualify and reset ahead of tomorrow,” said Pozzi.
David King (Tim O’Neil, City of Plymouth) made an impressive start to his Olympic debut, squeaking through as third-fastest qualifier.
King lowered his personal best to 13.37 in June and clocked 13.55 (-0.2), including the fastest reaction time in his heat, to make the semi-finals by a margin of nine thousandths of a second.
“It feels amazing to be in an Olympic semi-final, I’m super happy with that,” he said.
“The race itself was not great, below par, but at the end of the day I did what it takes to get through and I’m very, very happy.”
Elsewhere Andrew Butchart (Barry Fudge, Central) proved his Olympic pedigree, staying with the leading group in the quicker of the two men’s 5000m heats to reach Friday’s final.
The Scot went through 2000m in 5:37.2, comfortably in the pack, and split 3:30.6 for the final kilometre to finish seventh in 13:31.23.
“The second heat is always nice because you can see what you need to do, and how well the first heat did,” said Butchart, who finished sixth at Rio 2016. “It is a bit of an advantage and I think we took that.”
Marc Scott (Jerry Schumacher, Richmond and Zetland) missed out on the final by a whisker in the second half of his distance double.
The 27-year-old, who finished 14th in the 10km final, was prominent through the first 2km but faded to clock 13:39.61.
“I do believe I belong here, and I think I displayed that tonight,” he said. “The 10,000m didn’t quite go my way but I’m pleased with my race tonight.”