Keely Hodgkinson says it took time to adjust after European Indoor breakthrough
Defending European Indoor champion Keely Hodgkinson admits it took time to get to grips with her stunning breakthrough.
The British star, who turns 21 on Friday, burst onto the scene with European Indoor 800m gold in Poland two years ago.
Since then she has won Olympic, world and Commonwealth silver and European outdoor gold.
Now she is ready to defend her title at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul.
She starts in the heats in Turkey on Thursday but knows it has taken time to adjust to her global profile.
Hodgkinson said: “It feels like a lifetime ago. For me the Europeans back then were a really nice opportunity. There were some people missing in reality. I wanted to take that opportunity.
“One of my favourite things to do, which you could argue is quite bad, is I like to prove people wrong. I was fastest going into it but because I was young, there were a lot of experienced girls.
“I wanted to prove it does not matter if you’re young, I can still go to a championship and win. I wanted to show I can go in and win.
“Being the favourite was a nice, new experience for me and winning allowed me to have some belief going into the outdoors. In my first race I broke the European junior record.
“That year was really nice, it was one thing after another, but on the back of it was a bit difficult for me.
“Getting used to everything. It felt like my brain was catching up with everything. Mentally I was 19 but physically I felt about 25.
“It was catching up with me but I’m in a really good place now. I’m looking forward to building on that and running as fast as possible. See what else we can do.”
Jazmin Sawyers, who goes in the long jump, will captain the squad with Daryll Neita favourite for the 60m title and Laura Muir will run in the 1500m aiming for her fifth European Indoor crown.
Hodgkinson added: “I remember watching Laura back in 2014 and she was young then. I’ve known about her for ages.
“I remember 2021 specifically and it was kind of a standout moment to be on start line with her, being in the same competition as her. Even beating her for the first time, it was like, ‘wow. I have beaten one of the people I watched growing up’ which is quite amazing.
“She’s an incredible athlete. She’s another one who kills herself. Especially in training. I see it all the time. She works hard as well. She deserves everything.”