‘Two Girls Live the Dream’ – Leeds Beckett University student Keely Hodgkinson wants to emulate her friend and English heroine Ella Toone

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The 20-year-old University of Leeds Beckett student, in action at the Commonwealth Games, was inspired by her lifelong friend Toone’s stunning success at Euro 2022.

Toone scored a brilliant opener in England’s 2-1 extra-time win over Germany on Sunday to help the Lionesses win their first major tournament.

It came after Hodgkinson won silver in the 800m at last month’s World Championships in Eugene.

England’s Keely Hodgkinson competes in the Women’s 800m Round 1 at Alexander Stadium on day five of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

The couple went to Fred Longworth High School in Tyldesley, Greater Manchester after growing up together.

“We’re just two young girls living their dreams,” said Hodgkinson, who reached the 800m final on Saturday at the Commonwealth Games after Tuesday’s heats.

“I was always referred to as ‘mini Ella’ growing up in school, so we kept in touch from that and she was also in Tokyo last year with football.

“Ella has done so well to score too. I know she’s on cloud nine so congratulations to her, it’s good to see.

England’s Keely Hodgkinson competes in the Women’s 800m Round 1 at Alexander Stadium on day five of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

“We went to school together. She was two years older than me, but somehow we got on really well.

“We did cross country, I always tended to beat her in running, that was my forte, but she was naturally very good, she has a lot of talent.

“She used to play on our boys’ football team and she smoked them, so there was absolutely no way she couldn’t make it.

” She is very good. We were raised about four miles apart, so it puts our hometowns on the map and I know they’re very proud of us.

“I thought it (Sunday) was absolutely amazing, I really enjoyed watching it.

“What this is going to do for women’s football, women’s sport, I’ve seen all the little girls watching it and it’s really nice for them to see that because before they wouldn’t have had that.”

Hodgkinson will be joined in the final in Birmingham on Saturday by England team-mate Alexandra Bell and Scotland’s Laura Muir.

She added, “It’s actually a world-class area. I feel like the only people missing are probably the Americans and some Ethiopians. It won’t be easy, but hopefully I can come away with gold this time.

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