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Tokyo 2020: A look at the trio trying to emulate Dame Kelly Holmes

Tokyo 2020: A look at the trio trying to emulate Dame Kelly Holmes
© Reuters
Holmes won two gold medals in Greece 17 years ago.

Team GB go into the Tokyo Olympics with their best chance of women's middle distance medals since Dame Kelly Holmes' Athens heroics in 2004.

Laura Muir has passed up the chance to emulate Holmes' 800 metres and 1500m golden double, opting to focus only on the longer event, but with fellow Scot and training partner Jemma Reekie also in prime form along with Keely Hodgkinson hopes will be high over 800m as well.

Here, the PA news agency assesses how this summer's medal hopes compare to Holmes, and the barren run they are seeking to end.

How they compare

Dame Kelly Holmes, centre, celebrates her 800m win in Athens
Dame Kelly Holmes, centre, celebrates her 800m win in Athens (Phil Noble/PA)

Comparisons to Holmes' best times remain apt, with the records barely changing in either event in the years since her twin triumph.

The Olympic records, set by Nadezhda Olizarenko in 1980 in the 800m and Paula Ivan at Seoul 88 in the 1500m, both still stand, as does Jarmila Kratochvilova's 1983 world record of 1:53.28 over the shorter distance.

Only the 1500m world record has changed hands since 2004, and even that 1993 mark set by China's Qu Yunxia has been beaten only once – Genzebe Dibaba lowering the record by 0.39 seconds in 2015 to its current mark of 3:50.07.

Holmes ran a personal best of 3:57.90 to win the 1500m so Muir's best of 3:55.22 offers huge encouragement – it is also only 1.26sec outside Ivan's Olympic record.

In the 800m, Hodgkinson set a PB of 1:57.51 in early July, a week after beating Reekie and Muir at the Team GB trials. Reekie responded with a new best of 1:56.96 at the following week's Monaco Diamond League meeting, finishing second as Muir (1:56.73) also improved her best.

Holmes won gold in 1:56.38 and had a career best of 1:56.21, meaning Reekie in particular could be within striking distance while 19-year-old Hodgkinson's rapid improvement offers hope.

A long wait

Liz McColgan, left, with daughter Eilish as a baby
Liz McColgan remains Scotland's most recent track medallist. Daughter Eilish, right, will run at her second Olympics this summer (Chris Bacon/PA)

A medal for any of the trio would be a first for Team GB at those distances since Holmes in either the women's or men's events, with the latter most recently represented by silvers for Sebastian – now Lord – Coe in the 1984 800m and Peter Elliott in the 1500m four years later.

There have been no female medals over 800m or above from 2008 onwards, with Lisa Dobriskey's fourth place over 1500m in 2008 the closest anyone has come to emulating Holmes.

In the 800m in particular, the challenge has failed to materialise – Lynsey Sharp's sixth place at Rio 2016 makes her the only British woman since Holmes to even reach a final. Muir has joined Dobriskey and Laura Weightman in 1500m finals.

Either Muir or training partner Reekie could also become Scotland's first individual medallist in any track event since Liz McColgan won 10,000m silver in Seoul 33 years ago. McColgan's daughter Eilish will have the first shot at that accolade in the 5,000m, where she finished 13th in Rio, and will also run in the 10,000m.

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Mallory Franklin pictured at the Tokyo Olympics on July 29, 2021
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