Kenyan leaps to gold while Briton beats Athing Mu but has to settle for silver again
Keely Hodgkinson has been in this movie before. In the first instalment of what has now become a trilogy of global championships, she was playing the part of the new kid on the block, announcing herself to the world in Tokyo with a British 800m record and an Olympic silver medal.
The sequel arrived at the World Championships in Oregon last year where, though the margin of defeat was far smaller, the outcome was the same and another second place was met with a very different reaction.
Whereas there had been outright joy in Japan, the now bona fide star could not hide her disappointment at failing to grasp the golden goal in Eugene which she clearly believed was within her reach.
Part three was staged on closing night in Budapest. With Athing Mu, the American who had thwarted the Briton twice on the biggest stages, barely having raced this year and seemingly indifferent to competing in Hungary at all, confidence was growing that Hodgkinson – who broke that British record at the Paris Diamond League – could end up as the leading lady this time around.
Another key player in the production has emerged too, though. Mary Moraa, who finished third in Eugene and then beat England’s finest to Commonwealth gold in Birmingham last year with a bizarre yet effective quick, slow, quick strategy, was now also centre stage. Victory over Hodgkinson at the Diamond League meeting in Lausanne earlier in the summer had underlined the Kenyan’s threat. There was good reason for this being one of the most hotly anticipated events of the championships.
When the cameras began to roll, the big names delivered again but it was Moraa who ultimately wrote the script. Despite running what was just about the perfect tactical race, Hodgkinson finally got the better of Mu, yet still came away with silver.
The American, who had last run an 800m race in late June before these championships, wasted no time in going to the front and made sure the pace was high, leading the field through halfway in 56.01, with Moraa, the strong-starting Jemma Reekie and Hodgkinson for company.
Only the positions of the British pair had changed by the time the final bend was negotiated, with Reekie, who had bravely put herself firmly in contention, beginning to fade. Mu’s power was waning, too, and she was overtaken on both sides, with Hodgkinson having worked herself into a position to attack down the inside and…