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World Athletics Championship 2023: Keely Hodgkinson denied 800m gold as GB equal best-ever medal haul

World Athletics Championship 2023: Keely Hodgkinson denied 800m gold as GB equal best-ever medal haul

Keely Hodgkinson spearheaded Great Britain to equalling its best-ever medal haul of 10 on the final day of the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

Hodgkinson, as the fastest woman in the world this year, had aspirations to top the podium but clapped her hands as she crossed the line, shaking her head at another gold that went begging.

The 21-year-old ran a near-perfect race to win another silver to add to the same medal claimed at the Olympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games in the past two years.

It proved the first of three medals on Sunday night as Britain’s 4x400m relay quartets both won bronze. It took GB to double figures, emulating the only other time they had done so in Stuttgart 30 years earlier.

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Hodgkinson had been one of Britain’s best golden hopes in Hungary and, while she defeated Athing Mu, her vanquisher at Olympic and World level, for the first time in her career she could not quite reel in Mary Moraa, who repeated the feat of denying her gold in Birmingham last summer.

Another near-miss: Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson had to settle for silver again in Budapest (Getty Images)
Another near-miss: Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson had to settle for silver again in Budapest (Getty Images)

Hodgkinson’s time of 1:56.34 was the third fastest of her career but still not enough to cement her place as a world champion.

And yet it was a captivating race which suggested she had learned from any past errors. She opted against her front-running approach, instead keeping herself just back from Mu, who set the tempo.

And when Moraa hit the front in the home straight, there was briefly the suggestion that Hodgkinson might beat her to the line but she came up just short, and the Kenyan performed a jig of sorts and lay on the track wiggling her feet in celebration.

Afterwards, Hodgkinson said: “To be consistently up with the best in the world is what I want. I gave it my all. I don’t think I really put a foot wrong.

“I really believed I was going to win. It’s not bronze, it’s not gold but I’m still on the podium. It was a different order to last year, who knows what it’ll be next year. One of these days I’ll get the top spot. I’ll aim for gold again.”

Jemma Reekie put herself in contention for a medal but had to make do with fifth place at the finish after a tumultuous season where she split with long-time coach Andy Young at the start of the year.

The Scot said: “I’m proud of the way I ran it. I was brave. It was always going to be hard. I really wanted to be up in those medals today but those girls are strong. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Record matched: GB’s 4x400m relay teams both won bronze to take the medal tally to 10 (AP)
Record matched: GB’s 4x400m relay teams both won bronze to take the medal tally to 10 (AP)

The men’s relay squad had been without their their leading light in individual silver medallist Matt Hudson-Smith, who has been dealing with Achilles tendonitis all season. But the quartet of Alex Haydock-Wilson, Charlie Dobson, Lewis Davey and Rio Mitcham managed to win bronze behind the United States and France.

In the women’s race, the Netherlands’ Femke Bol produced a stunning final leg for gold over the US while the GB four of Laviai Nielsen, Amber Anning, Ama Pipi and Nicole Yeargin added another bronze.

Morgan Lake came within a whisker of making it an even better night for the British contingent in the high jump by clearing 1.97metres but could not clear 1.99 and had to make do with fourth place.