Keely Hodgkinson has downplayed talk of her beating Kelly Holmes’ 26-year-old British record for the 800metres.
Just four days after her 19th birthday, the teenager produced the performance of a far more experienced athlete in winning the European Indoor title.
In doing so, she became Britain’s youngest winner at the event for 51 years, with Jenny Meadows, her coach along with husband Trevor Painter, predicting she had the pace and talent to match the national mark of the two-time Olympic champion.
But Hodgkinson said: “I’m not really looking at those expectations. I’m just going to carry on and try and enjoy it and put myself forward with the senior girls because it’s ok saying, ‘let’s get to the Olympics’.”
At the turn of the year, Hodgkinson was a relative unknown but in her first race of 2021 became the first British women to break a world under-20 record since Zola Budd 36 years ago.
While her time in Torun, Poland, yesterday was more than four seconds slower at 2:03.38, it was no less impressive in her first senior championships.
Prior to those two runs, Tokyo had seemingly been a pipe dream but Hodgkinson, who is also studying a criminology with psychology degree, now has her sights set on the Olympics.
“Potentially, there might be a rewrite of what I had in mind for this year,” she said. “Britain’s middle-distance girls are just unreal so just getting there is going to be the first hurdle.”