Keely Hodgkinson relishing Athing Mu challenge in 800m final

Keely Hodgkinson relishing Athing Mu challenge in 800m final

Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson is ready to be a party pooper as she chases world gold.

The 20-year-old reached Sunday’s 800m World Championships final after breezing through her semi-final on Friday night in Eugene.

It puts her on collision course with the USA’s Athing Mu – who beat her to gold at last year’s Tokyo Olympics – for the first time in 11 months.

Worlds Athletics
Hodgkinson faces Athing Mu for the first time in 11 months (Ashley Landis/AP)

Great Britain’s Hodgkinson won silver in Japan and is ready to go one better and upset home favourite Mu in America.

“It just makes it more the sweeter if I come out on top,” said Hodgkinson, who won her semi in one minute 58.51 seconds. “It’s the first time (facing each other) since Eugene (Diamond League) last year, it’s quite good we haven’t raced each other in a long time.

“It builds up the excitement but it’s not just me and her in the run. You can’t be complacent.

“You just trust in your own ability really. You almost give more than you’d want to because there are so many girls looking for a place in the final. I’m just happy to be safe.

“Championships are where I want to be. It’s a really good opportunity to put everything out there. It’s not the end of the world if it goes bad but it’s really good if it goes great.

“It would be nice to add to the collection. There are a good five of us going for the medals.”

Jemma Reekie, fourth at last year’s Olympics, was fifth in her heat in two minutes 00.43 seconds and failed to progress along with Ellie Baker and Alex Bell.

Asha Philip, Imani Lansiquot, Ashleigh Nelson and Daryll Neita won their 4x100m relay heat ahead of Jamaica in 44.99 seconds.

Dina Asher-Smith was rested after her 200m bronze on Thursday night but is expected to return for Saturday’s final at Hayward Field.

Philip said: “It’s nice we have such a strong team. The level of sprinting in the UK keeps rising and that is what we need. We are not here to play, we are contenders and we have great confidence.”

Neita, who ran the anchor leg, added: “It was good I am happy, it’s nice to be back out there after the 100m. It felt good to be out there – it is an amazing atmosphere and we’re going to turn it up even more so we’re really excited.”

The men of Adam Gemili, Zharnel Hughes, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Reece Prescod also reached Saturday’s final. They finished behind the USA in 38.49 seconds.

Gemili said: “That was alright – not as fast as we would have wanted but it’s qualifying and we’ve done it so that’s all we can ask for at this stage. We can look back at where we can improve and step it up to another level.”

Harry Coppell was unable to reach the pole vault final after only clearing 5.50 having needed to find new poles when they arrived broken off his flight from the UK.

He added: “I’m really lucky I have a great partner in UCS Spirit who sorted me out with some new poles. They had them here within a week of me finding them broken, so I am massively grateful to them, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been jumping, never mind trying to contest for the final.”

Meanwhile, Max Burgin has been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) after pulling out of the 800m earlier this week.

The fastest man in the world over the distance this year withdrew with a calf problem but now has a final diagnosis. He is understood to have flown economy to the US while wearing compression socks.

He said: “After pulling out of the 800m at the World Championships in Eugene, with what we initially thought to be a calf strain has, upon further investigation, turned out to be a DVT in the right calf.

“This is something that can be fixed easily and relatively quickly. I’m aiming and looking forward to representing my country again soon.”

In the final of the 400m hurdles, the USA’s Sydney McLaughlin smashed her own world record by almost a second to take a stunning gold in 50.68 seconds.

The Olympic champion had only previously set a new mark of 51.41 seconds last month.