LONDON (July 23) — The London Diamond League 2023 meeting on Sunday, was marked by the unexpected withdrawal of world and Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson from the women’s 800m race. Despite her absence, though, the event saw a thrilling performance from fellow Briton Jemma Reekie, who secured a popular victory for the home crowd.
Hodgkinson had been excited to compete at London Stadium against a field that was packed with world-class athletes. – Read more: Gudaf Tsegay runs 5000m PB to beat Hassan; Monson sets new American Record
However, the 21-year-old decided to withdraw from the race as a precaution due to feeling ill, according to a BBC Sport report. It was reported by Athletics Weekly that she suffered from “a sore throat,” something Hodgkinson’s jokingly pushed back on.
“A bit more than a sore throat,” she tweeted. “Thank you Athletics Weekly for making that sound so unserious lol.”
The young Briton was gutted to have missed the opportunity to race infront of her home fans, but will now focus her attention on next month’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest, where she aims to seize the gold she narrowly missed out on winning versus American Athing Mu last year in Oregon.
“I’m so gutted to miss the home crowd in a historic stadium. As always, the British crowd looked like it brought the vibes, see you in Budapest, healthy.”
Jemma Reekie Takes Impressive London Diamond League Win
Meanwhile, despite Hodgkinson’s absence, the women’s 800m race in London was still a spectacle. Olympic finalist Jemma Reekie, who finished second at the British Athletics Championships earlier this month, won in a season’s best time of 1:57.30, her second-fastest time ever while smashing the meeting record by almost a second.
Reekie entered the home straight behind the leaders but powered home to seal the win, much to the delight of the home crowd, who she admits provided her with the extra energy to overtake the athletes ahead of her and secure the victory with the third-fastest time in the world this year.
There was some joy as well for Catriona Bisset of Australia, who finished fourth and broke her own Oceanian record with a time of 1:57.78. There was also a personal best performance from Katie Snowden, who ran 1:58.00 for fifth place.
The London meeting, the first major athletics event to be held at the stadium since 2019, was a crucial opportunity for the leading athletes to fine-tune their preparations for the World Championships, which start on August 19.
In the meantime, Hodgkinson, despite her pullout, has an impressive record so far this season. The British champion owns the fastest time in the world this season at 1:55.77, which is also a British national record.
In an effort to work on her speed, she ran the 400m at the European U23 Championships earlier this month and secured a bronze medal with a personal best of 51.76 seconds in Espoo, Finland.
Hodgkinson is the 800m Olympic and World silver medalist, as well as the 2022 European champion.
The standout athlete also won two European Indoor gold medals for 800m in 2021 and 2023.