Keely Hodgkinson has had a very strong 2024 in her build-up to Roma 2024 and now Paris 2024. This piece by Stuart Weir reminds me of how talented Keely Hodgkinson is and how we will see the battles between Athing Mu and Keely Hodgkinson in the future, but definitely not in Paris. Athing Mu’s fall in Eugene was the fall heard around the world. 

Remember, kind readers, Stuart Weir wrote this column in early June, during the European Champs. I had a family emergency, since coming to good news, and missed articles on the last two days of the championships. 

 

Keely Hodgkinson retains the European 800 crown.

 

Keely Hodgkinson duly retained her European 800m title in Rome, finishing in 1:58.65 in a race that saw the top six dip under 2 minutes.  What wasn’t in the plan was for Keely, who had led the race from start to finish, to come under so much pressure from the fast-finishing Gabriela Gajanova, who clocked 1:58.79.

Keely said of her performance: “It was really great; it does give me extra confidence, and that championship practice – three rounds – is so different to doing just the one on the circuit, so I am happy to get that practice in early and to defend my European title. I believed in myself, and I thought the best, easiest, and safest way to do it was to go to the front and control it, and I backed my strength and speed to deliver the gold. I’ll go back to do some training for the trials; this time of year is about ticking over, keeping the training in, all the hard work is done, and surviving right now”.

That Keely would win the European title was expected,  Now as our thoughts turn to the Paris Olympics, what do we learn about Keely and her competitors?  Keely’s record in global championships is three-second places. In Tokyo 2021, she ran 1:55.88 to Athing Mu’s 1:55.21.  In the 2022 Worlds, it was 1:56.38 behind Mu’s 1:56.30, with Mary Moraa third.  In the 2023 Worlds, Keely ran 1:56.34, with Mary Moraa winning 1:56.03 with Mu third.

The three amigos are all 22 or 23 but so different. Keely is quite an extrovert. She runs a lot—13 races last year and already 5 in 2024. Athing Mu, in contrast, has not run this year and only ran twice last year outside of the world champs. Mary Moraa has won 8 Diamond League races, and Keely has won 6, but Athing just 3 indicates how little Athing runs. Regarding PR, Mu is fastest, 1:54.97, Hodgkinson 1:55.19, and Moraa 1:56.03.

Keely Hodgkinson takes 800m for NIKE Pre Classic, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun.

It’s all very interesting, but does it help us determine who wins gold at the Olympics? All three have the talent, but arguably, Mu has the greatest talent. The question about Mu for me is, can she continue to run so infrequently and yet turn up at the Olympics and win? Mary Moraa is the reigning world champion, as shown in the Commonwealth Games final in 2022 when she went from first to eighth and finally to first!

It will be hard, but Keely has beaten both the other two, but not simultaneously. I think 2024 could just be Keely’s year.

The medalists in the Women’s 800m, ROMA 2024, photo by European Athletics via Getty Images

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