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Keely Hodgkinson takes gold with classy run in European 800m | European Championships

A giant rainbow dominated the skyline as Keely Hodgkinson stepped on to the track for her third major championship of the summer. Less than two minutes later Britain’s most talented young athlete finally had a deserved pot of gold.

Victory came with a typical display of class and authority; the 20-year-old from Wigan bursting clear with 200m to win the 800m gold in 1min 59.05sec, nearly half a second clear of France’s Rénelle Lamote.

Poor Jemma Reekie, who has battled glandular fever all year, faded badly in the home straight to slip from second to fifth, while the third Briton in the race, Alex Bell, was sixth.

The look on Hodgkinson’s face at the end said it all. She had been denied twice before in the past six weeks: first at the world championships, where she lost out on gold by 0.08sec to the American Athing Mu. At the Commonwealth Games the Kenyan Mary Moraa rope-a-doped her on the final lap. But the third time proved a charm.

What an extraordinary 18 months it has been for Hodgkinson, who first advertised her extraordinary talent in March 2021 when, just four days after her 19th birthday, she won the European Indoor title.

That made her the youngest British winner in the event for more than 50 years. She barely paused for breath before smashing Kelly Holmes’s national record, winning Olympic, world and Commonwealth silver, and then taking her first major outdoor title here.

This was a night that was not only about her speed, but her guts too. Hodgkinson had admitted earlier in the week that she had been sleeping all the time after such a tough season. Yet she still had enough in the tank to beat the best in Europe – and with considerable style too.

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