Keely Hodgkinson relishes Athing Mu’s challenge in 800m final

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

The 20-year-old reached the final of the World Championships in the 800m on Sunday after coming through in her semi-final on Friday night in Eugene.

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

Hodgkinson takes on Athing Mu for the first time in 11 months (Ashley Landis/AP)

Britain’s Hodgkinson won silver in Japan and is set to go one better and upset local favorite Mu in America.

“It makes it even nicer if I come out on top,” said Hodgkinson, who won his semi-final in one minute 58.51 seconds. “It’s the first time (head to head) since Eugene (Diamond League) last year, it’s pretty good that we haven’t raced against each other for a long time.

“It creates excitement, but it’s not just her and me in the running. You can’t be complacent.

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

“The championships are where I want to be. This is a very good opportunity to reveal everything. It’s not the end of the world if things are going badly, but it’s really good if things are going well.

“Would be nice to add to the collection. We are a good five to go for the medals.

Jemma Reekie, fourth at last year’s Olympics, finished fifth in her heat in two minutes 0.43 seconds and did not progress with Ellie Baker and Alex Bell.

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

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

Philip said: “It’s good that 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 pretenders and we have great confidence.

Neita, who ran the anchor stage, added: “It was good, I’m happy, it’s nice to be back after the 100m. It was good to be there – it’s an amazing atmosphere and we’re going to increase it even more, so we’re really excited.

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

Gemili said: “It was good – not as fast as we would have liked, but it’s qualifying and we did it, that’s all we can ask for at this stage. We can look back where we can improve and move to another level.

Harry Coppell couldn’t reach the pole vault final after clearing just 5.50 after needing to find new posts when they arrived interrupted by his flight from the UK.

He added: “I’m really lucky to have a great partner in UCS Spirit who provided me with new clubs. They had them here less than a week after I found them broken, so I’m extremely grateful because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have jumped, let alone trying to compete for the finals.

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

The fastest man in the world over the distance this year retired with a calf problem but now has a definitive diagnosis. He reportedly flew economy class to the United States while wearing compression socks.

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

“It’s something that can be resolved easily and relatively quickly. I’m aiming and looking forward to representing my country again soon.

In the 400m hurdles final, American Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record by nearly a second to take a stunning gold medal in 50.68 seconds.

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

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