Jemma Reekie made history at the European Under 23 Championships in Gävle, Sweden, becoming Great Britain & Northern Ireland’s first double gold medallist at the championships. Here, the 21-year-old Scot reflects on her season so far as well and her hopes for the future.
Being the first Brit to win two golds at the European under 23s was amazing. I didn’t know I was the first ever until I had read the British Athletics article. I’ve always wanted to try and do something no one has ever done before so to achieve that was great. I feel like I’ve finally managed to stop and breathe and acknowledge that it was actually really good.
At the Europeans, it was good for me mentally to do two events and completely switch it up. So, to stop thinking about the 1500m, I’d have the 800m, and when that was done, I had the 1500m the next day. It stops me overthinking and makes it more fun.
But, I’m way more comfortable in a 1500m. I feel like I know what I’m doing and I just relax. The more I do 800m, though, the more I enjoy them. I come from an 800m background as that’s what I did when I was younger and I used to hate the 1500m.
I don’t think I was really fit enough to do them either; I’d be out of breath after a lap! When I moved to my coach, Andy Young he said I should try some 1500’s and I might surprise myself. I just enjoy doing 1500m right now, but I love running an 800m every so often to change it up.
The 1500m was actually the hardest race for me at the Europeans because I woke up and my asthma was bad. I suffer with hay fever too and that’s always a pain, but a lot of athletes get that as well. It’s just about controlling it. We have great medical help from British Athletics so 99% of the time it is under control. Luckily, it worked out in the end anyway!
At the Anniversary Games, I was hoping to go a little bit faster through the 800m split in my 1500m race. There are a few things I would’ve change but to get such a big personal best, I’m pretty pleased with. I definitely think that I can be quicker though, especially as I’d just competed in four races in the same week. I know that I have more in me, but I just need the right race to show it.
I was so happy to run 4:02. After that race at the finish, I was thinking how I’d beaten some really good girls, so I have to be reminded I am one of the good girls as I always expect everyone to do better. At the Europeans some of the girls’ personal bests were 15 seconds slower than mine, but I’d know their strengths so just kept in mind that I’d have to be careful. It’s just about being confident and I try not to focus on anyone other than myself.
I think this year is probably the best season I’ve had, but I’ll never forget 2017 because that’s when I won my first Europeans. I knew I could do well there, but I really didn’t think I would medal! I’ll always remember that season so well because I felt like I progressed so much. Then again, I could say the same about this season because I’ve already improved so much from last year.
I’m so excited to race at the British Championships in Birmingham. I love championship races and racing in a good field. Every time I race at a championship, I run well. I’ll hopefully do the same this year! Andy always gears us up for the British Championships and it’s probably one of my biggest races of the year. I have trust in him and what he’s doing.
I’m just getting more and more confident in training and I’m always pushing myself a bit further every day. Even after running 4:02, I thought about how to train harder! I always think the other girls are ahead so I have to push harder. There’s always that wee bit extra! Some sessions I’ll go out with Laura [Muir] and feel good, but others I can only manage to hang on. Some days I just have to think, ‘I’m strong in this session, I can just hang on the back and then push it on after’ and thinking positively has made a really big difference.
I never get jealous of people and I want everyone to be on their best because when everyone is, it pushes me even harder. I find it really motivates me more than anything. It doesn’t faze me what other people are doing. I just need to be confident in what I have and what I can do, and I don’t think I’ve done everything I can do yet.
It’s exciting that I’m only 21. I always forget what age I am because I’m just trying to push and push so I can be up there! Sometimes I won’t do as many reps and I have to understand that it’s because I don’t need to over-train. I know so many athletes that have over-trained too soon and that’ll be it for them. I think Andy has planned out what’s ahead for me and how much I should be doing right now.
At time of writing, I’m going on a training camp to St Moritz. We’re going back to altitude training which I think will do me well after having such a busy season already. We’ll go and get a big block of training done, and then restart again.
I’d love to go to Doha; it’d be a great experience ahead of next year. I’m really aiming to go, and if I get picked great, but if I don’t, I’ll get my head back down and get ready for Tokyo next year.
I’d really like to go to the Olympics. It’s so strange. For years, I’ve been so fixed on going to Tokyo and now it’s so real after running the qualifying time. I know now it’s doable.