Keely Hodgkinson has performed extraordinarily well over the last few years. She is an Olympic and World Silver Medalist, as well as a European Champion. She has done all of this at only 21 years old. Hodgkinson is certainly one of the brightest young stars in Athletics, and it seems as though she will not be going anywhere. Hodgkinson has been red hot this indoor and early outdoor season, pointing towards a potential world title this August at the World Championships in Budapest.
Early Season Success
Hodgkinson went on an absolute tear this indoor season. She was undefeated throughout the entirety of the season, capping it off with an Indoor European Championship over 800 meters.
Not only did Hodgkinson go undefeated during the indoor season, she did so in spectacular fashion by breaking two records. She set a new national record over the indoor 800m with a mark of 1:57.18. She also set a world indoor best over 600m in 1:23.41.
When both her impressive win streak and blistering times are taken into consideration, it is clear that Hodgkinson is in world class form.
Her hot streak has continued into her outdoor season opener over 800m. In the Paris Diamond League, Hodgkinson dominated the race and broke her own national record in 1:55.77.
A time like this is absolutely rolling for it being only June. It certainly makes for an exciting prospect of seeing how much more Hodgkinson could improve this season.
Hodgkinson also stepped down and raced the 400m at the u23 Open English Championships on June 17. She won the race in a new PB of 52.24.
This improvement in speed continues to illustrate how much Hodgkinson is improving as an athlete. She has already set new PBs in the 400m, 600m and 800m this season. A range of improvement like this further showcases how Hodgkinson is becoming a more and more well-rounded athlete.
Her Unique Strategy
One of the most intriguing parts of Hodgkinson’s ability is the way in which she executes her race over 800m.
Hodgkinson is not afraid to go early in an 800m. The way in which she is able to turn over so well from 500 meters to 700 meters truly is what separates her in many races.
This strong push that Hodgkinson can make from further out than the typical 800m runner was on full display during her 800m win in Paris. In this race, she split 14.2 seconds from 500 to 600 meters and followed it with a 14.3 for the next 100 meters. This made for a blistering surge in the second half of the race. These splits were far and away the fastest over that section of anyone in the field.
With aggressive running like that, Hodgkinson can make clear separation over almost any field in the late stages of the race. Her speed endurance typically does not give the opportunity for the field to challenge her over the final 120 meters.
What Does She Need to Win?
Keely Hodgkinson is proven to be able to match just about any move before 700 meters. Her supreme speed endurance allows her to put herself in a position to win in almost any field.
One area it seems that Hodgkinson could improve upon in order to get that major title is her final 100 meters. This could be the very tool that Hodgkinson could use to get her first international win over the Olympic and World Champion, Athing Mu.
Athing Mu and Keely Hodgkinson have become young rivals over 800m. They have placed first and second in both the Tokyo Olympics and the World Athletics Championships, with Mu winning each of those matchups. With Athing Mu only being 21 years old as well, it will be a tremendous rivalry for years to come.
In the World Championships 800m Final last year, Hodgkinson matched Mu’s moves all the way up until the line. She let a slight gap open up with 250 meters to go, but closed it down aggressively by 150 meters to go. She came right on the inside of Mu with 100 meters to go. This gave her ideal positioning to power home for the win, using the inside angle. Hodgkinson pushed that gap, but was not quite able to close the race down for the win. She finished second to Mu by only eight hundredths of a second.
If Hodgkinson can find just a bit more explosiveness in that final 100 meters, it seems as though she will be deadly in the World Championships Final. Often in the 800m, it is just those few meters of acceleration that can separate a Gold from a Silver medal.
What Comes Next for Hodgkinson?
Moving forward into the season, it is likely that Hodgkinson will be doing some more racing before the World Championships. She still has only raced one 800m race outdoors. It is an event that usually takes quite a lot of racing to be fully ready. So, we will likely see her in a few more 800m races before August.
One particular race that Hodgkinson will be competing in is the European u23 Championships in July. She will be contesting the 400m against a high-caliber field, including the u20 European 400m Champion, Yemi Mary John. It certainly will be interesting to see how her speed continues to develop in a Championship field like this one.
Beyond just outright competition, Keely Hodgkinson’s PB is certainly something to watch. After breaking her own British Record in her season opener over 800m, it seems more records could be in store for this season.
Currently, Hodgkinson sits at number twenty-five on the all-time list with her PB of 1:55.77. It seems likely that she will begin moving further up this list as more opportunities for fast 800m races come.
Keely Hodgkinson has proven to be an extremely high-caliber championship racer over 800m. She has remained consistent over many championships, already having Commonwealth, European, World and Olympic Medals in the 800m. It seems as though she always finds herself right there in the most important races, which is a testament to her tremendous work ethic and vision.
If Hodgkinson continues performing as well as she has been, another thrilling 800m final will be on deck this Fall in Budapest. It will certainly be worth tuning in to see one of the brightest young stars take another shot at Gold.
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Featured image courtesy of Marta Gorczynska.
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