This one’s for him – Keely Hodgkinson dedicates European gold to former coach

Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson retained her 800m title in style at the European Indoor Championships and dedicated her victory to her late former coach.

The 21-year-old left the field in her wake in Istanbul to take gold in one minute 58.66 seconds, almost two seconds ahead of second-placed Anita Horvat of Slovenia, and later revealed she had done so while still coming to the terms with the sudden death of Joe Galvin.

Hodgkinson said: “The easiest and smoothest way was just to run hard from the front. That is what I wanted to do. I wanted the others to work hard for it if they were going to be anywhere near me. I am really happy defending my title. I couldn’t ask for any more really.

“Every race and every championship is a different experience, at the moment it is anyway, because this is still only my second European Indoors. I just hope to keep building on this, keep performing, keep bringing back medals. That is where I want to be, that is what I want to do so I am living the dream.

“I have not had time to process it, but my coach passed away a few days ago and it was really unexpected, so this one is definitely for him.

“He had a lot of belief in a little 10-year old me, so that medal is for him and everyone at home. I hope to make him really proud, and I hope he is up there watching, and his wife Margaret, who I know will be so proud of me as well.”

If Hodgkinson’s success was expected – she went into the final with a season’s best more than three seconds quicker than any of her rivals – team captain Jazmin Sawyers’ triumph in the long jump came as something of a surprise.

Sawyers was sitting in fourth place with a jump of 6.76m heading into the fifth round, but leapt into the lead at 7.00m – a world lead, British indoor record and a personal best – and then watched as Serbia’s Ivana Vuleta and Italian Larissa Iapichino failed to overhaul her.

She said: “It feels like it really, really has been a long time coming. I’ve never won anything. I am still in shock.

“I feel like the seven-metre jump has been in me for so long. I have been waiting for this seven metres to come out forever. It has been so many years that for a bit you think, ‘Is it going to come?’.

Sunday’s double success took Great Britain’s medal haul to three goals – Laura Muir won the 1500m title on Saturday – one silver and two bronze to leave them in third place in the final medal table behind Norway and the Netherlands.