Track legend backs Keely Hodgkinson for greatness
British hurdling legend Colin Jackson believes Keely Hodgkinson has got what it takes to reach the very top in the 800 metres.
The 20-year-old - who is coached by Wigan duo Trevor Painter and his wife Jenny Meadows - built on her silver medal at last year’s Tokyo Olympics with another summer to remember, pushing American athlete Athing Mu all the way to the line in an amazing race at the World Championships in Oregon.
Hodgkinson experienced more disappointment when just being pipped at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, though in a particularly busy schedule she bounced back from that when soaring to success at the European Championships in Munich.
Jackson himself won two World Championship gold medals and two Commonwealth golds for Great Britain in the 110m Hurdles in the 1990s and reckons the Atherton athlete has the potential to be a superstar.
He said: “She’s gone past being a talent now, because she’s delivered from when she was 19 years old and winning the Olympic silver.
"She’s a phenomenal athlete and I think we’re blessed to have her in the UK.
"She’s done so well already and it’s exciting to see what potential she has.
“She’s virtually the same age as Mu so we’ve a real rivalry there and a longevity too.
"It’s great for the sport and a legacy we look for and hope for.
“This summer just put pressure on all of the athletes because of the unprecedented workload so for her to do what she did was amazing.
"It was nice to get her to the European Championships and get her to the top of the roster and have that lovely winning feeling.
“It has to be a matter of time before Keely wins a World or Olympic gold - she’s constantly knocking on the door which such consistency, which is the key to it all.
“The only problem she will have is injuries when she gets a bit older, so it will be a case of staying as fresh as she can and she has a great team in her corner. Jenny Meadows was a champion in her own right and they work really well together, so she’s in good, safe hands.”
Jackson, 55, was speaking at Warwick Racecourse, where he was a guest of the Poundland Foundation at their charity raceday.
He explained: “I’ve only been to the races twice in my life and it’s always been here at Warwick, but it’s a fabulous day out and a lucky place for me!
“It’s a lovely course and the staff are fantastic and when you get those kind of warm feelings, it makes the whole experience better, plus I haven’t lost any money!
“Poundland are looking after everyone and it’s been a fantastic day.
"It’s fantastic to see some people I’ve not seen for a long time and also meet some familiar faces.”
Hodgkinson went to the same school in Atherton – Fred Longworth High School – as Manchester United and England Lionesses star Ella Toone.