Birthday girl Keely Hodgkinson gets perfect gift... GB duty
Many people have struggled to make their birthdays feel special during lockdown – but Keely Hodgkinson is not like many people!
The athlete turns 19 today and will mark the occasion by reporting for duty with the senior Great Britain squad, ahead of her expected debut this week.
Hodgkinson will fly out to Poland with many of the country’s other brightest prospects for the European Indoor Championships, which begin on Friday.
Her coach, Trevor Painter, said: “It’s her 19th birthday on Wednesday when she flies out – what a gift, going out to your first senior international.
“She’s down to earth and taking everything in her stride.”
Hodgkinson, who hails from Leigh, has already made an impression this year.
The 800m sensation smashed the world Under-20 indoor record during her first race of the year in January.
Her time of 1:59.03 in Vienna sliced two seconds off the previous world record, and saw her move to fourth in the UK all-time indoor senior rankings behind Jemma Reekie, Meadows and Laura Muir - and ahead of double-Olympic champion Kelly Holmes.
And it also saw her qualify for this summer’s scheduled Olympics in Tokyo.
Painter coaches her while his wife, Jenny Meadows - the former 800m ace - is Hodgkinson's mentor.
“We’re made up for Keely because she’s worked hard,” said Painter. “She’s very talented and she’s a lovely person as well.”
Unfortunately, they have been prevented from travelling due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“It’s a shame but it’s just the way it is,” added Painter. “She’ll be on Facetime quite a lot to Jen and myself and so she’ll know what she needs to do, and hopefully she comes out on top.”
The 800m heats are on Friday with the semi-finals on Saturday and the final the following day.
The European Indoors take place in Torun, Poland from March 4 to 7.
Wigan's Emily Borthwick is also in the squad