Keely Hodgkinson crosses the line first ahead of her rivals
With two of Britain’s best middle-distance runners ahead of her entering the finishing straight, Keely Hodgkinson made her move and kicked for home. She kicked past Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie, kicked her way to the British 800 metres title and kicked a path to a potential Olympic medal.
Just three months after her 19th birthday, Hodgkinson stamped her authority on the event in a manner that makes it highly possible she will be in the mix for the podium in Tokyo. Age does not matter when you have that much talent.
The women’s 800m had been the most eagerly anticipated event of these British Championships and it delivered in abundance. Hodgkinson’s blistering sprint finish ensured she triumphed in one minute 59.61 seconds, but the reality is that the first three women across the line will all have their sights on winning a medal next month.
Reekie’s second-place finish means she is assured of her place on the team, while Muir is a near-certainty for the selectors’ final discretionary spot after seeing off all other candidates to finish third.
“It’s something I can’t put into words,” said Hodgkinson. “I probably wasn’t favourite going into it but I was up there and it is an incredible feeling.
“To come away with the win wasn’t just a confidence booster but a testament to how hard I’ve worked.
“One of my heroes is Michael Jordan. I watched the documentary [The Last Dance] on Netflix and I just thought he had the mentality that he wants it so he’s going to go and get it. I like that.”
Bullish about the British trio’s prospects in Tokyo, Reekie added: “I’m going for a medal so the others should be going for a medal too. We all deserve to be up there.”
Minutes after the women had crossed the line, their male 800m counterparts then combined for an even more thrilling race that saw Elliot Giles triumph over the fast-finishing Oliver Dustin by just 0.01sec.
Giles, who earlier this year ran the second-fastest indoor 800m in history, seized control entering the home straight but only held off 20-year-old Dustin by the most slender of margins with a photo finish required to separate the pair. Giles’ winning time was 1:45.11.
Oliver Dustin and Elliot Giles await the results of the photo finish for the men's 800m
The near-victory capped a remarkable life-changing period for Dustin, who a fortnight ago smashed his personal best by almost two seconds to move third on this year’s world rankings and is now off to his first Olympics.
As with the women, all three men on the British 800m team for Tokyo – which will almost certainly include third-place finisher Daniel Rowden – are viable medal candidates in a wide-open event.
“I’m only 27, but I feel old when you’ve got guys like that bugger over there, Dustin,” said Giles. “He’s got a rocket up his arse sometimes.
“I tore my quad about six weeks ago and had three weeks off. That injury really set me back but I know I can drop a bomb in Tokyo.
“I knew whoever came top three here has a very real chance of getting a medal at the Olympics, if not potentially be the winner. The sky’s the limit.”
Elsewhere, Jodie Williams completed a rare sprint double by adding 200m gold to the 400m title she won on Saturday, clocking 23.02sec into a huge headwind. Faced with a similar headwind in the men’s race, Adam Gemili triumphed in 20.63sec.
Tiffany Porter claimed her first British 100m hurdles title since becoming a mother and Jazmin Sawyers won the long jump.
British Championships winners and losers
Holly Bradshaw – Bradshaw’s 5.90m British pole vault record was the standout performance of the championships and moved her third in the world rankings, serving notice that she is a genuine medal candidate in Tokyo. After so many near misses, this could be her year.
Jodie Williams – Nicknamed ‘Moneylegs’ after an astonishing 151-race, five-year junior unbeaten streak, Williams twice came close to quitting the sport during a few injury-ravaged years, but is now back to her best. Victories in the 200m and 400m mean she will be busy in Tokyo.
Keely Hodgkinson – After becoming the first British woman to break a world under-20 record for 36 years in January, her mentor Jenny Meadows predicted Hodgkinson could one day break Kelly Holmes’ British 800m record. Her victory here was stunning and she has the world at her feet.
Mo Farah – Having failed to secure the required standard at the original 10,000m trials earlier this month, the four-time Olympic champion convinced UK Athletics to put on a race in Manchester purely to serve as his own time trial, but again fell short. At 38, his elite career looks over.
Zharnel Hughes – The European 100m champion easily qualified fastest from the semi-finals and looked set to post a notable time in the final, but never got the opportunity after being disqualified for a false-start. He should still be given a discretionary spot on the Olympic team.
Andrew Pozzi – With no genuine challengers in the 110m hurdles, victory should have been a breeze for Pozzi, but he smashed a hurdle when in the lead and only finished third. Thankfully, his error should have no long-lasting effects, with the selectors nailed on to award him a discretionary Team GB place.