The 21-year-old dedicates her European Indoor 800m gold medal to former coach Joe Galvin, who recently passed away
Keely Hodgkinson is used to carrying the British flag on her back with the number of major championships medals she has collected over the past few years.
The Union Jack on this occasion was different.
Joe Galvin, who he and partner Margaret had coached a young Hodgkinson through her early teenage years, sadly passed away on Tuesday (February 28).
The letters of his name were placed across the flag with “legend” placed vertically. It wasn’t hard to work out how much he meant to Hodgkinson and why dedicating her second Euro Indoor 800m title on the spin to Galvin was the first thing on her mind.
For the recently turned 21-year-old, the fact he passed away the day that Hodgkinson flew out to the European Indoor Championships would’ve been an emotional test. It was so fitting she produced her 19th consecutive sub-2 minute performance – excluding finals – with a time of 1:58.66 in Istanbul.
Once victory was secured the emotions poured out.
“He was such a great man and he had so much belief in me.”
An emotional interview with @keelyhodgkinson who paid tribute to her former coach Joe Galvin, who sadly passed away on Tuesday 🙏
She dedicated her Euro Indoor 800m gold to him 🥇
🎙️ @TimAdams76 #Istanbul2023 pic.twitter.com/oPdhztiGCo
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) March 5, 2023
“I haven’t really had time to think about it or reflect on it because I’ve been at a championships and there has been so much going on,” she told AW.
“I got a little bit emotional in my BBC interview. He was such a great man and had so much belief in me. He gave so much to the sport and I dedicate this gold medal to him.
“He did so much for me. He got me to my first GB vest, my European youth gold [Győr 2018], my European U20 bronze [Borås 2019]. He also helped me find Trevor [Painter].
“Every time I met him he was like ‘you’re going to do this and this!’. I’ll get to go to his funeral in two weeks time and properly say goodbye.”
The manner and expectation of Hodgkinson’s victory proves how far she has come. Since the once young prodigious teenager burst onto the scenes by becoming British 800m champion two years ago, she has gone onto claim Olympic, world and Commonwealth 800m silver, while also becoming European champion in the distance.
She holds both British 800m outdoor and indoor records and at the Bryggen meet on January 28 became the fastest athlete indoors over 600m in history.
Does Hodgkinson reflect about her achievements at just 21? For her, age is just a number.
“When I came onto the scene three years ago I just felt like this is what I want to do, take the opportunity and every championships is a new slate,” she added.
“It doesn’t matter who is there. I want to do the best that I can and hopefully it’s enough.
“Hopefully I am inspiring young girls around me to come into the sport. It’s not easy but it’s definitely worth it.”
With Hodgkinson facing her biggest rivals, Athing Mu and Mary Moraa, on a global stage, it has provided an opportunity to hit the front early on in European Championships without the relative fear of being chased down.
She has now raced in a European outdoor and two indoor 800m finals and won all of them, with the ease of someone who knows they’re in complete control. That acumen is a testament to her training and ability to process information incredibly well.
[The 800m being unpredictable] “Yeah definitely,” Hodgkinson said. “In indoors you get shoved into lane 5 if you’re not careful! The best way for me today was to get out of the most dangerous part which was the first 100m. I managed to do it, held my own and got to the line!
“I’ve been very consistent around the 1:57 mark all season. There are times when I thought I might’ve wanted more from myself and there will come a time for that [quicker times] I hope. I’m healthy, happy and doing what I love to do.”
Hodgkinson remains unbeaten in 2023 and has passed her indoor season with flying colours.
With another golden moment at European level the question will be whether she can finally take down Mu and avenge that world 800m final from Oregon 2022.
Hodgkinson will now fly to Dubai for some rest before returning to South Africa in the Spring. The cover star for AW’s February magazine, she talked about “working on the small margins” to become world 800m champion.
If she does, there is no doubt Joe Galvin will be in her thoughts once again.
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