Keely Hodgkinson stood with her eyes and mouth wide open in astonishment, hands fixed either side of a head dizzied by two laps that had changed everything.

An Olympic underdog three years ago, she has become one of the gold medal favourites at Paris 2024.

“It’s quite a privileged position to be in,” Hodgkinson tells BBC Sport.

“It’s exciting but a little bit daunting, and a very different position to what I was in last time.”

At the last Olympics, Hodgkinson was 19. Tokyo 2020 was an opportunity which may not have happened had the Games not been postponed by 12 months by the Covid-19 pandemic.

She would seize it in extraordinary fashion, breaking Kelly Holmes’ 26-year British record to clinch 800m silver on her debut at a major outdoor championships.

A whirlwind three years have followed for the reigning European champion, whose initial look of disappointment at winning her second successive world silver in Budapest last summer spoke volumes of the ambition she holds for Paris and beyond.

“I’m still young but there was no pressure then, whereas now I feel like I have a little bit to live up to,” Hodgkinson says.

“Being chased rather than being the one chasing is a harder position to be in but I enjoy the pressure, to be honest.”

It is in the French capital where Hodgkinson will again battle rivals Athing Mu and Mary Moraa in pursuit of an elusive global gold.

It was Mu, 21, who beat the Briton to Olympic gold in Tokyo, and then pipped her to the world title by 0.08 seconds in 2022. When Hodgkinson at last got the better of the American at last year’s worlds, she suffered a repeat of her Commonwealth Games loss to 23-year-old Kenyan Moraa.

Before Paris, Hodgkinson will aim to make an early statement when the ‘big three’ of the women’s 800m go head-to-head at the Prefontaine Classic, which doubles as the Eugene Diamond League, live on BBC Three from 21:00 BST on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been second every time. But we’re going to try and change that,” says Hodgkinson.

“I think it’s a good rivalry. It’s quite exciting for us all because we’re all so young, we’re all really talented, we work hard and we all really want it.

“We don’t race each other that often so, when we do, it’s a big occasion.”

While that showdown will be Hodgkinson’s first 800m of the season, she hinted last week at the progress she has made over the winter by setting a new 400m personal best of 51.61 seconds.

Often left floored by the gruelling sessions she has been put through by coaches Trevor Painter and Jenny Meadows in pursuit of her goal throughout warm weather training in South Africa, Hodgkinson’s streak of silvers have only intensified her determination to celebrate a gold at the Stade de France on 5 August.

“I feel like I’ve really grown up and I have a lot of experience now. I’m really excited,” Hodgkinson says.

“I’ve spent three years trying to find those little tiny one per cents. I’ve trained so much harder than I did three years ago and I just hope that it’s enough.

“All I can do is give it my all. It would mean a lot if that [dream of winning gold] was to come true.”

Hodgkinson’s immediate reaction to following Moraa across the line in Budapest suggested only Olympic gold will satisfy her.

A lot has changed in three years.

Not lottery funded before making the podium in Tokyo, Hodgkinson had the 2024 Games in mind as she plotted her path to the pinnacle of the sport. The large mural celebrating her achievements in her home town of Atherton indicates she is well ahead of schedule.

Still only 22, Hodgkinson continues to uncover her potential, which has taken her to seven senior international medals.

That is now paired with rich experience of competing at the highest level, and a maturity she has shown to use the near-misses of recent years as motivation in pursuit of future glory.