Jenny Meadows 'like another mum' to Keely Hodgkinson

Keely Hodgkinson has hailed mentor Jenny Meadows as 'like another mum' as the pair plot global domination in 2022.

Monday, 3rd January 2022, 2:41 pm
Keely Hodgkinson in training at Robin Park with coaches Trevor Painter and Jenny Meadows, along with Olympic high jumper Emily Borthwick

Meadows, along with husband Trevor Painter, has guided 19-year-old Keely to the top of the world athletics podium in the space of 12 months.

After setting the world Under-20 indoor record in Vienna last January, Keely then became European Indoor champion in March.

Outdoors, she claimed a second national title before winning 800m silver at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, after running the fastest ever time (1:55:88) by a UK runner.

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And Leigh's Hodgkinson followed that up by winning the prestigious Zurich Diamond League.

She's not about to rest on her laurels either, with the World Indoor Championships, World Championships, the Commonwealth Games AND the European Championships on her radar this year.

But with Wiganer Jenny - herself a former Team GB Olympian in the 800m - in her corner, Keely reckons the sky's the limit.

"It's really cool with Jenny," she said. "A lot of athletes she used to race are still racing now and she knows how they run.

"To have her wisdom and experience is something I'm very grateful for - she's like another mum.

"We're very different athletes but she's taught me so much, as has Trevor, and she definitely gets just as nervous when I'm racing.

"Her main piece of advice is to make sure I keep my youthful enjoyment with the sport, especially as her years were affected (by dopers)."

Rather than sit back and admire her Olympic silver for the rest of her career Keely's hoping it's only the beginning.

"I'd like some more bling to look at and some under-23 records," she said. "Because I was always on the move after Tokyo, the silver medal only hit me about a month ago.

"My breakthrough in January feels like a lifetime ago, and I've had so many life experiences this year it's weird. It's been really enjoyable but I'm still trying to process it."

"This year's a blank page again. I'll look back on 2021 when I'm retired but I have to focus now on the new year to go again."

And while some would see the presence of Athing Mu - winner of the 800m in Tokyo in a US national record, and three months her junior - as a huge potential obstacle for honours, Hodgkinson sees only scope for further improvement.

"It's good to be on the same journey as Athing and at the same age, and good to have that rivalry," she told the BBC. "We've had the same personal bests every year since we were 14 so it's going to be very interesting to see how the next few years go.

"Trev and Jen say there's 30 per cent more still to come. They've helped build me steadily and now it's about maintaining it and bringing my times down."

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