Keely Hodgkinson won a stunning Olympic silver medal in the women’s 800m and broke British legend Dame Kelly Holmes’ national record in the process.
The 19-year-old raced with maturity well beyond her age as she clocked a time of 1:55:88 in Tokyo, eclipsing Holmes’ time of 1.56.21. This is the first athletics medal for the GB team at these Games.
Hodgkinson told the BBC: “It was so open and I wanted to show it all, I’m so happy.
“Kelly Holmes is a legend. I admired her and talked to her the last few days, she is a lovely person.
“I just have no words. It means a lot, and thanks to everyone who posted in the last couple of days.
“If the Olympics had been last year I wouldn’t have been here, but suddenly it gave me a year to grow up and compete with these girls. “
Jemma Reekie finished fourth, despite setting a new personal best of 1.56.90 minutes, after being caught by American Raevyn Rogers.
Alex Bell also won a personal best 1.55.66 minutes to finish seventh.
Hodgkinson, a criminology student at Leeds Beckett University, went from virtually unknown at the start to the podium in Tokyo.
In January, she ran 1: 59.03 in an 800m race in Vienna to become the fastest female under-20 in the indoor distance.
A month later, she became the youngest British European indoor champion in over 50 years after winning the 800m in Torun.
Hodgkinson is not funded by British Athletics because, amid the coronavirus pandemic, they haven’t added anyone to the world-class performance program in 2020.
Coach Jenny Meadows, who won world bronze in 2009, tweeted a photo of a relaxed Hodgkinson curling her eyelashes to emphasize her composure.
She was backed by Barrie Wells, a millionaire businessman and philanthropist who has already helped fund 18 athletes, including Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, to the London 2012 Olympics.
Wells had promised her the chance to drive an Aston Martin if she made it to the final.