SJA Sportswoman of the Year: The case for Keely Hodgkinson

SJA members can vote now to decide the winners of three major categories at the Awards, to be held at The Kia Oval in London on Thursday 7 December; Jake Wightman, Beth Mead and the Lionesses claimed the equivalent 2022 honours; who will take the top prizes this year? Voting deadline is 15 November…

By Olly Pinhey

Ahead of the World Athletics Championships in August, Keely Hodgkinson banged the drum for the recognition of British athletes.

She said: “I do think us athletes work a lot harder than some other sports and we don’t get the recognition we deserve.”

A record ten-medal haul for Great Britain in Budapest later, perhaps now is the time for British athletes – and Hodgkinson – to get the appreciation they deserve.

Gold was the target for Hodgkinson in Budapest, and although she ultimately had to settle for 800m silver, few stars are more on the rise.

Aged just 21, Vogue’s ‘new it girl’ of world athletics was still only 20 in January when she broke the world indoor 600m record – a record that had stood since 2004.

She followed her record-breaking start to the year by winning the 800m at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Istanbul, emotionally dedicating the victory to her old coach Joe Galvin who had passed away days earlier.

After a dominant indoor season, Hodgkinson’s outdoor campaign began with a bang when she set a then-World Leading time of the season in the 800m at the Paris Diamond League in June.

Hodgkinson later shaved over half a second from this time at September’s Diamond League final in Oregon, posting the tenth fastest 800m time ever by a woman and claiming her second Diamond League title.

Looking back on a year in which she continued to raise the bar, repeatedly beating her own British 800m record, Hodgkinson’s only real moment of disappointment was her silver in Budapest.

A closely fought race saw the Brit finally beat Olympic gold medallist Athing Mu but narrowly lose to Kenya’s Mary Moraa.

This trio of highly talented young middle-distance runners look set to compete at the top level for many years to come.

Perhaps Hodgkinson needs to set herself apart from her rivals at the 2024 Olympics to receive the recognition she is after. 

Yet despite the stiff competition, she remains one of Team GB’s best chances at gold in Paris.

Before the World Championships, Hodgkinson also told The Guardian: “Hopefully we can do something good and get people back in love with athletics.”

It is by doing precisely that, and continuing to invoke the spirit of 2012, that British athletics and their most exciting young star, Hodgkinson, may finally be close to the recognition they deserve.

Sports journalist Olly Pinhey is a member of the SJA Academy, find out more about membership here.