'They trust my instincts': Keely Hodgkinson thanks Wigan coaches after gold medal
Teenager Keely Hodgkinson has heaped praise on coach Trevor Painter and mentor Jenny Meadows after marking her full Great Britain debut in style.
Her gold in the women's 800m saw the British team equal their best haul at the European Indoor Athletics Championships winning two gold, four silver and six bronze medals overall.
Leigh athlete Hodgkinson, who only turned 19 on Wednesday, timed her move around the outside perfectly to take the lead with 250m to go and held her nerve as she ramped up the pace for the final lap.
Despite a late surge from Joanna Józwik, Hodgkinson kicked once again to power across the line in 2:03.88 for her maiden senior title and become the youngest British champion at the event since Marilyn Neufville in 1970.
She said: “I’m so happy. You never quite understand the shock when it happens. You picture it in your head so many times, but when the reality comes through, it’s just a different feeling.
“I didn’t really think about the pressure. I am only 19 and I’m still learning and there’s still things that I’m going to learn. I just wanted to keep my same relaxed state like I did in the heats and the semi-final.
"Me and Trevor talked about that and we said not to change anything for the final. I just didn’t want to make any mistakes and I really believed in myself.
“They trust my instincts. They are really letting me grow into my athlete and Jenny’s experience is there to tap into if I need it. They said to me ‘just keep the same relaxed state and you’ll know how you feel and what to do’ and that’s what I did.”
Wigan athletics coach Painter and wife Meadows - herself a former European Indoors champion - were unable to travel to Torun because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Earlier this year Hodgkinson broke the World Under-20 record to make the qualifying standard for the Olympics.
She wasn't the only athlete from the borough in Poland.
On Friday, Wigan's Emily Borthwick set a personal best 1.91m in qualifying for the women’s high jump.
In Sunday's decider, she cleared a best of 1.85m as she finished eighth on her maiden senior Championships.
Three fouls at 1.89m signalled the end of the competition but she was able to reflect on a remarkable experience, as she also stepped up into the full GB side.
"Eighth in Europe. PB. First senior international final. That was incredible!" she posted on social media.