This week, JEMMA REEKIE will escape the snow and jet back to South Africa’s warmth and sunshine for the second leg of her “your-summer-our-winter training camp.”
The middle-distance runner is an athlete who has improved because she was basically unknown outside of Scottish circles 12 months ago.
The 22-year-old was allowed a revamped summer to add a Diamond League win to her resume. There was a fast doubling in the number of wins. Earlier, in eight days, she set three British records, including one in Glasgow’s 800 meters, which was the fastest woman indoors since 2006.
That kept the young Ayrshire star for more than six months at the top of the world rankings, while she also finished the 1500m outdoor campaign in the top 10.
Covid may have ruined too much, but in August, the delay in the Olympics depressed the chances of a medal hanging in Tokyo around Reekie’s neck.
“In 2019, I was in U23 events a lot,” she said. I raced more in 2020, so I was able to practice more. The girls had such a high standard, they pushed me, which was very good in every race.
Last year, I was very excited about whether the Olympics would happen. But ideally, I’ll be more prepared for that in 2021. I can see more change already. And after running a few more races and knowing more, I’ll have more confidence. So I’m thrilled.
Although the 2024 Paris Games will be her expected peak, the success of Reekie is a dream come true for someone at the age of 10 who envisioned that goal.
It is unlikely that she would be targeting the European Indoors in Torun in March, where her training partner Laura Muir will have the opportunity to defend the 1500- and 3000-meter titles she won at the last two editions in Glasgow and Belgrade, with the calendar for the coming indoor season still challenged by constant changes enforced by Covid.
But Reekie – recently named British Female Athlete of the Year – even with her coach Andy Young by her side to spur her on to peak success in Japan this summer, admits that being invited to move into Muir’s house during the lockout last year might have been the difference between stagnation and priceless growth.
“No matter what the workout was, even if we couldn’t do circuit workouts or go to the gym, we always had each other to push each other,” Reekie said.
“Obviously, Laura is incredible and world class. I knew that I could pressure her, that she could push me, and that was a good result. And then it was great to have her with us for the entire season of the race. There we drive each other. I know it’s going to be high profile when Laura’s in a race and it’s going to be difficult.