Trio reflect on Olympic success... and set-out plans for rest of 2021

They have shaken off the jetlag, celebrated with their families and started back training.
Harry Coppell and Emily Borthwick in Tokyo. Picture: Twitter/EmilyBorthwickHarry Coppell and Emily Borthwick in Tokyo. Picture: Twitter/EmilyBorthwick
Harry Coppell and Emily Borthwick in Tokyo. Picture: Twitter/EmilyBorthwick

But the borough’s Olympians have still found time to reflect on their success at the Tokyo Olympics.

Teenager Keely Hodgkinson, who hails from Leigh and is trained by Wigan pair Trevor Painter and Jenny Meadows, was one of the stars of the Games, claiming a new British record on her way to 800m silver.

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Like the 19-year-old, Wigan Harriers Harry Coppell and Emily Borthwick were also making their Olympic debuts.

Keely Hodgkinson celebrates her silver-medal successKeely Hodgkinson celebrates her silver-medal success
Keely Hodgkinson celebrates her silver-medal success

Coppell went on to finish seventh in the pole vault and his partner, Borthwick, was 16th in the high jump.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Coppell. “It’s so strange when you get to the village, and you walk around and see all the different athletes from different countries.

“You’d go to the food hall and there’d be basketball players I’d seen on TV.”

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British record holder Coppell recorded a season’s best of 5.80m – 5cm off his national best – and narrowly missed out on the podium, scraping the bar as he attempted 5.87m.

“It was annoying because 1.87m would have put me in the frame to compete for a medal but it was my first Olympics, I’m happy to have performed well,” said the Billinge athlete.

“It would have been nice to have taken the extra step but I’m pleased with how it went.”

He and Borthwick, 23, were home in Wigan last weekend to celebrate with their families and friends.

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“Everyone is buzzing and really happy for us,” said Borthwick.

“I’m really happy, I went into it 32nd, I came 16th and just missed out on the final.

“Considering I sprained my ankle six weeks ago and I missed a lot of my high jump training, I’m pleased.”

They were both in a deserted stadium when Hodgkinson announced herself on the world stage with a 1min 55.88secs silver-winning performance in the 800m.

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“My final was on at the same time, I was on the infield when Keely was racing,” said Coppell. “When I compete I try and stay focused and not pay attention to what else is going on, but I cheered her round the last bend – I was made up for her.”

And Borthwick was not only a spectator that night, she had a front-row seat to the celebrations.

“We were room mates, so when she won silver, that was something else,” said Borthwick. “I should have been sleeping but you can’t not celebrate something like that!”

New research has shown Hodgkinson saw the 8th biggest growth in her Instagram followers out of all of the Team GB stars but coach Painter is ensuring she keeps her feet on the ground, braving the rain for a training outside the DW Stadium on Sunday.

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“We’ve quite a few big competitions and so we’ve got to crack on,” he said.

“We knew she was capable of that kind of time but you don’t always know if it’s going to come or not. It’s a bit of a lottery with middle-distance running, there are so many different scenarios that can unfold and thankfully it worked out.

“The Olympics was the key this year but hopefully she’s got some left in the tank to finish the season with a bang.”

They are all hoping to use the experience as a launchpad for a strong finish to the year in the Diamond League. Hodgkinson has competitions in Oregon, USA, Brussels as well as the final in Zurich.

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Coppell, 25, and Borthwick compete twice in Poland in the next week and also have sights on the Zurich showcase.

“The season isn’t over, I’m looking to get five or six competition in and enjoy the rest of the year and get some bigger heights,” added Coppell.