This is another preview by Stuart Weir. Jemma Reekie is one of Team GBR’s top middle distance runners. The women’s 800m in Tokyo will be absolutely insane.
Jemma Reekie has run nine 800m races this year and won six of them. Her worst finish was second. Her best time was 1:56.96 at the Herculis in Monaco. Alongside the teenager, Keely Hodgkinson, she represents the exciting young strength in depth of British middle-distance running. Reekie was in the World Championship in Doha in 2019 but failed to make it out of her prelim. She has improved dramatically in the 21 months since Doha, under the watchful eye of a coach, Andy Young.
Just being in Tokyo is a box ticked: “I am so excited. It wasn’t until I was on my way to the airport that I thought ‘I’m going to the Olympics’. I am just excited to be here. It is a dream come true because from a very early age I wanted to go to the Olympics. It feels like 10 years in the making. I’ve never been to a competition with so many different sports. I think it will be exciting to learn about other sports as well”.
That time in Monaco is the third fastest ever by a British woman. Kelly Holmes is the record holder at 1:56.21, also in Monaco 26 years ago. Jemma’s training partner, Laura Muir ran 1:56.73 in Monaco in the same race as Jemma. While Jemma had not been born when Kelly Holmes set the record, she has watched the race on Youtube “to learn from it”. She is also very aware of how close she is: “It’s been on my mind for two years. It’s something that I would love to do but you have to respect how well Kelly did winning gold in the Olympic final. She was an amazing athlete. It’s definitely in my mind but equally I know it will be hard work to get it”.
Asked for her thoughts on Laura not running the 800 in Tokyo, Jemma would not be drawn: “It’s only Laura who makes the decision on what she wants to do. Even if we had both been in the 800, I don’t think we would have had common tactics because we are both such different athletes. We run differently and we have different strengths. But it’s still lovely that we can support each other at out here”.
Reekie always looks to have a good race brain and to be a great tactician, what would be going through her mind at the bell in the Olympic final? “I guess that you never know until you are in the race what will happen. I am trying to be more patient and over the past year had been relaxing more than I races. Feeling confident in Monaco was a huge confidence boost. I’ve never gone through the bell so fast before – or if I did then I died”.
The women’s 800m will be one of the highlights of the Games and Jemma Reekie will certainly be in the mix.
(Editor’s note: In round 1, heat 6, Jemma won in 1:59.97. All three Brits and all three Americans moved onto the second round).