New British indoor record for Wigan's Keely Hodgkinson

Keely Hodgkinson set a new British record as the Olympic silver medallist returned to action in style with 800 metres victory at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham.

The 19-year-old from Leigh, who is coached by Wigan’s Trevor Painter and his wife Jenny Meadows, was racing for the first time since her Diamond League win in Zurich in September.

And she clocked a time of one minute 57.20 seconds at the Utilita Arena, surpassing Jemma Reekie's previous best indoor mark of 1min 57.91secs.

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Hodgkinson said: "First race, to open like that, I couldn't be any happier really. I just wanted to go out there, enjoy it in front of a home crowd and do something special like that. So I'm really happy.

Keely Hodgkinson celebrates her new British indoor record in Birmingham

"To come out and do this, see people I've not seen in a long time, I really enjoy it. I have the best job in the world I think!"

Hodgkinson's breakthrough 2021 saw her become the youngest ever 800m European indoor champion in March before then breaking Kelly Holmes' British record as she claimed the Olympic silver medal at the summer's Tokyo Games.

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Regarding the year ahead, she said: "I'm definitely excited. I think from last year, I definitely have more confidence in myself, but I also expect more.

"I don't have a gold yet, that's definitely the aim, but it's not going to be easy, especially with the Americans on American soil (at the World Championships in Eugene).

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"But it's definitely a challenge I'm up for and I'll give it my best shot.

"Birmingham (the Commonwealth Games) is definitely on my list to do, and the Europeans (in Munich) we'll see because my coach says I'm young, you want to have a long career, take it easy. So we'll see what's going on."

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Asked if she felt more pressure starting this year, Hodgkinson said: "I'd probably just say there's more eyes on what I'm doing. Pressure - I don't really see it like that. I feel like pressure comes from yourself."

Hodgkinson was offered top-level funding on the British Athletics Olympic World Class Programme in October, and she added: "I think it's definitely been an uncomfortable shift, because so much has happened at once.

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"But I've just been adjusting and getting used to now being a proper professional athlete.

"I'm really enjoying it, it's what I've always wanted to do, it's just come earlier than I thought."

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