British athletes urged to follow Keely Hodgkinson’s example and to show no fear

Mark Staniforth, PA Olympics Correspondent
·2-min read

British Athletics chief Christian Malcolm has urged his team’s stars to heed the example of Keely Hodgkinson and show “no fear” as they build towards the delayed Olympics in Tokyo later this year.

The 19-year-old capped her senior international debut by storming to victory in the women’s 800 metres at the European Indoor Championships in Torun at the weekend.

Tokyo is likely to come too soon for Hodgkinson to make an impression herself but Malcolm, who took up the role of Olympics head coach in 2020, believes the manner of Britain’s 12-medal haul in Torun bodes well for the future.

Poland European Indoor Athletics Championships
Keely Hodgkinson won gold at her first major senior international championships (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

Malcolm said: “I never put expectations on medals so to get 12 is good but I think more importantly, the athletes drove an attitude of being able to step up to competition and be fearless.

“I think that’s the key – be fearless. Go out there and don’t be scared. Don’t be scared that you’re quite low down the rankings, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get top eight or a personal best.

“You have to be fearless in these competitions. It’s not about being scared of what your opponents will do, it’s trying to focus on what you can do.”

Hodgkinson elbowed her way into an increasingly-crowded women’s middle-distance mix which already includes established stars like Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie.

Athletics – IAAF World Championships 2011 – Preview Day One – Daegu
British Athletics Olympics head coach Christian Malcolm believes time is on his team’s side (Dave Thompson/PA)

But Malcolm is adamant that despite her dramatic success she should not rush towards Tokyo, indicating instead that Paris in 2024 may prove a more sensible target for the Wigan-born star.

Malcolm added: “I think it is about her development at this stage. She has shown she is in great shape but we want her to have a long and fruitful career as well.

“Sometimes being thrust into a major championships a bit early, some athletes benefit, but for others it is about taking a step back.

“There are three big championships next year which she can pick from if she decides not to go for the Olympics. There won’t be any pressure from me.”