‘What the f***?’: Team GB’s Keely Hodgkinson left speechless after she smashes Kelly Holmes’ record to become first British 800m medallist since Athens 2004 with a silver as American favourite Athing Mu wins
An ecstatic Keely Hodgkinson was captured shouting ‘what the f***?’ into the stands after winning a silver medal in the women’s 800m final at Tokyo 2020.
The 19-year-old from Wigan broke Kelly Holmes’ long-standing British record and became Team GB‘s first Olympic medallist in the event since Athens 2004 with a sublime display.
Hodgkinson broke the previous best that Holmes had held since 1995 and her effort of 1:55.88 eclipsed the double Olympic champion’s time of 1:56.21.
Fellow British stars Jemma Reekie and Alexandra Bell also broke their own personal bests to finish fourth and seventh respectively.
The gold medal went to the impressive Athing Mu – the American athlete and hot favourite in a time of 1:55.21.
Keely Hodgkinson took the silver medal in the women’s 800m in a new British record time
Hodgkinson broke the previous best that Kelly Holmes had held since 1995 of 1:56.21
Mu was always comfortable in front, but all three British women were happy to race at the back in the first lap before Reekie and Hodgkinson made their moves in the final lap.
Reekie looked well in contention for a medal, but she ran out of steam at the end as Raevyn Rogers passed her for bronze.
Bell didn’t receive any funding to get to this event, but she was actually the fastest of the three British women in the semi-finals to qualify.
The 28-year-old from Leeds finished seventh – this after Laura Muir pulled out of the event to focus on the 1500m.
Hodgkinson celebrates as she crosses the finish line to finish second behind Athing Mu
Alexandra Bell (right) embraces Hodgkinson as she finished an impressive seventh
But it was Hodgkinson – who was unable to run at all in her early teens due to a tumour which has left her deaf in one ear – who burst clear of the other medal contenders.
And she couldn’t believe what she’d done, so much so that she was left speechless when she spoke to her trainer after the race.
The words ‘what the f***!’ was the best that she could muster as she took the Union Jack flag from the stands to celebrate.
‘Kelly Holmes is a legend. I’ve looked up to her and spoken to her in the last couple of days, she’s a lovely person,’ said Hodkinson.
‘I just have no words. It means so much, and thank you to everyone that has sent messages over the past couple of days.
‘If the Olympics had been last year I wouldn’t have been here, but suddenly it’s given me a year to grow and compete with these girls.’
Jemma Reekie just missed out on a medal to finish fourth, but she still achieved a personal best
USA’s Raevyn Rogers finished strongly to cross the line in third, narrowly ahead of Reekie
Reekie added: ‘I wanted to win, but sometimes you have to learn. Paris isn’t too far away.
‘I wanted to do better. I am going to be hard on myself because I wanted to win but I think I’ll look back in two years’ time and realise how well I’ve done.’
Bell was delighted with her run, and said: ‘I’m glad that I’ve got a PB out of it, I was just so focused on not coming last!
‘I wasn’t even bothered about the time during the race. But that’s just racing, when you’re focused on the race the times just follow.’
Hodgkinson, studying criminology at Leeds Beckett University, has gone from virtually unknown at the start to the podium in Tokyo.
Athing Mu was the favourite and she delivered, winning the gold medal in a time of 1:55:21
In January she ran 1:59.03 in an 800m race in Vienna to become the fastest woman under 20 at the distance indoors.
A month later she became the youngest British European Indoor champion for over 50 years after winning the 800m in Torun.
Hodgkinson is not funded by British Athletics as, amid the coronavirus pandemic, they did not add anyone further onto the World Class Performance Programme in 2020.
She has been backed by Barrie Wells, a millionaire businessman and philanthropist who has previously helped fund 18 athletes, including Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, to the London 2012 Olympics.
Wells had promised her the chance to drive an Aston Martin if she had made the final.