Hodgkinson looking for more despite breaking his British record

European champion not entirely satisfied with her 800m indoor mark, while Laura Muir and Gudaf Tsegay give it their all but are beaten by the clock in Birmingham

It tells you so much about Keely Hodgkinson and the standards she herself sets for herself, that breaking a British record just doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

The Olympic, World and Commonwealth silver medalist was untouchable as she won the World Athletics Indoor Tour 800m crown with a victory in the final in Birmingham. Her winning time of 1:57.18 shaved vital fractions off the 1:57.20 national mark she had set at Utilita Arena last year, but still the 20-year-old’s first reaction was not one of satisfaction.

Breaking Jolanda Ceplak’s world record of 1:55.82, set on the same day Hodgkinson was born 21 years ago, wasn’t necessarily in the cards, but the lasting impression the Brit left was that she wanted to at least put him in jeopardy.

“I have had time to calm down. It’s a British record, so I can’t complain, but you know when you’re capable of much more,” said the European indoor and outdoor champion. “I felt that he was in rhythm but in the last 50 meters he got away from me.

“When you set high goals for yourself, you want to achieve them. It was hard to get the world record, but I’ll keep trying and I’ll keep coming back to try.”

That was the third indoor 800-meter race of the season for Hodgkinson. He has run them all in 1:57. The next one will be at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul, where she is the defending champion and the clear favorite to add another gold.

“I have been very consistent and I have been cutting my times. There’s always something new in the sport,” he said after a race in which he had gone through the middle of the division in 56.94, with Australia’s Catriona Bisset second in 1:59.83 and the ever-improving Issy Boffey following her win. at the British Indoor Championships a week ago lowering his PB to 2:00.25.

“For me now, it’s straight to the Europeans and that’s my focus now.”

Laura Muir (Getty Images for British Athletics)

The same was true of Laura Muir, who had also arrived in Birmingham with record-breaking ambitions. The Scot’s eye was on Maria Mutola’s 1000m indoor world mark of 2:30.94 from 1999.

The lively Birmingham crowd did their best to cheer her but, as Muir put it, this is the “nastiest” distance and she began to lose her pace with around 400m to go, eventually posting a time of 2:34.53. There was a national record of 2:35.35 for Romanian Claudia Mihaela Bobocea in second, while Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui clocked 2:35.69 in third.

Muir is famous for being capable of suffering and knew that she would have to embrace pain to achieve this particular goal. To break the record, there was no choice but to come out strong. She dug deep but a 600m opening of 1:29.36 took its toll on her.

“I’m really grateful for the fact that I got the chance to try it,” said the woman who set the British record for the distance of 2:31.93 in Birmingham two years ago.

“Not many people get the chance to go for one, let alone on British soil, so I’m very grateful to the meeting for putting this together for me. (Pacemaker) Jenny Selman was amazing. She had the right pace, but we knew we had to go fast in the first half and whether or not that comes too soon. Unfortunately, she came too soon, but she was going to try anyway. I feel like I’m in shape to run that kind of time, but it’s getting so perfect and it’s so hard to get it right.”

Muir’s focus now turns to Istanbul and the quest for what would be a fifth European indoor title.

“I’m going for the gold (again),” he added. “It’s the only color I’ve won in the Europeans and I want to continue like this.”

Gudaf Tsegay (Getty Images for British Athletics)

The first pre-planned record attempt of the day came in the women’s 3000m, where Gudaf Tsegay came agonizingly close to breaking a mark that had stood for 19 years.

Despite lighting the afterburners with around 150m to go to meet the schedule, the Ethiopian 5000m world champion came to the line in 8:16.69, just shy of the 8:16.60 run produced by her compatriot Genzebe Dibaba in 1994. It was the second fastest time ever and a meeting record. It is also the second time in 2023 that Tsegay has posted the second fastest time behind Dibaba, having run 4:16.16 per mile in Toruń.

Another Ethiopian, Mizan Alem, was second – almost 15 seconds behind – in 8:31.20, while Konstanze Klosterhalfen, the European 5000m champion who had started the contest in search of the continental record, came third in 8:35.14.

Having reached the 1000m in 2:43.41 and reaching the 1600m mark, Tsegay had to make the big step home alone. She appeared to be clinging to the tail of the running lights as she reached 2000m at 5:31.06.

For a moment, it seemed that he had finally lost his rhythm, but his belated effort brought the target back into view. He goes the saying that elite sport boils down to very thin margins. Tsegay would attest to that.

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