After two laps in the Diamond League in France this week, British runner might tackle one lap at England U23 Champs

Keely Hodgkinson opens her season over 800m at the Diamond League in Paris on Friday (June 9) but the 21-year-old could follow this with an appearance over 400m at the England Athletics Under-23 Championships on June 17-18.

Earlier this year her coach, Trevor Painter, suggested that the 400m at the European Under-23 Championships in Finland in mid-July could act as a stepping stone ahead of racing 800m at the World Championships in Budapest in August.

Speaking at her press conference ahead of her race in Paris, Hodgkinson confirmed a 400m run-out at the England Champs is a possibility next week. The event looks almost certain to be in Chelmsford but could possibly move to Woodford due to organisers rushing to get the track ready following refurbishment.

Hodgkinson, the Olympic and world 800m silver medallist behind Athing Mu of the United States, has a 400m best of 52.41 which was set when finishing fifth at the British Championships in 2022. She also ran 52.42 last year when finishing runner-up to Jessie Knight at the British Indoor Champs.

It is not unheard of for 800m runners to drop down in distance at the European Under-23 Championships. Yuriy Borzakovskiy, for example, won 400m gold at these under-23 championships in 2001 before taking Olympic 800m gold in Athens three years later.

But first comes Hodgkinson’s 800m in Paris and she said: “I’m really looking for tomorrow and raring to go.”

As for her likely time? “I’ll let my legs do my talking but training has been going well and I’m looking forward to starting my season with a bang.”

In Paris she faces Ajee’ Wilson, Raevyn Rogers, Halima Nakaayi, Noelie Yarigo and Catriona Bisset, among others.

Earlier this year she set a world indoor 600m best of 83.41 in Manchester and said: “I forgot it was this year as it seems so long ago! I’ve worked very hard since then and am hoping to run really well this summer.”

Keely Hodgkinson (James Rhodes)

Why is she opening her season relatively late in early June? Hodgkinson says she ended the indoor season feeling a little tired with some minor niggles. But training has gone well since and she is due to race in Lausanne on June 30 and also the London Diamond League on July 23.

Painter told AW: “We’ve definitely upped things in training. I’m hoping there will be some fast times and commanding races but we don’t want to see one-horse races. We want some challenges.”

The 400m aside, will Hodgkinson ever move up to 1500m? “She’s very reluctant and she is more of a 400m-800m runner right now. It’ll be a few years yet. Maybe LA (Olympics 2028) and onwards. Perhaps we can tempt her into it if she gets bored of the 800m and we can move her up.”

He added: “She definitely has the skills for it. If she ran one now she’d run about 4:04-05 but with more training maybe sub-4. Who knows. We have to persuade her to do it first.”

On coaching Hodgkinson, Painter describes her as a “gem to work with” and adds: “Whatever we say she never shirks it. She rolls her sleeve up and gets it done. She is also fantastic at being composed in races.”

Keep an eye out on the AW social media channels for video interviews with Hodgkinson and Painter by Stuart Weir in Paris

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