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UK Athletics

results now reid-ing right for stef

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Stef Reid

12 months ago the disappointment was evident on the face of Stef Reid, as the long jumper finished fifth and over half a metre down on her personal best at the IPC World Championships in Lyon.

This was a low point for the London 2012 silver medallist, which left her facing many questions about her future in the sport.

Reid explained: “2013 was not a good year for me and I had to look at it quite honestly, as I knew there were a lot of changes I needed to make. Any time you make changes, it’s new territory because you don’t know how things are going to work out.

“The hardest thing about 2013 was knowing that this was so far below what I can do and almost when your body won’t cooperate with you when you know that you can get the world record, which makes it frustrating. I was 29 and people start wondering maybe she’s done and that’s hard to deal with.”

The easy option may have been to throw in the towel, but sheer grit and determination saw Reid rise from the doldrums and re-establish herself as one of GB & NI’s leading lights and a strong contender for medal success over the next few years.

In April this year, Reid produced the remarkable turnaround everyone knew she was capable of. It wasn’t just a solid jump, but a world record  in Clermont, Florida during warm weather training with her group.

“To come out in April with a world record, really threw me through a loop. I wasn’t expecting that. I opened in January with 4.83m and thought I didn’t do all the hard work for that distance. However, to get the world record so early really settled me. It gave me the freedom to enjoy what I was doing, and I’ve never had a season where I’ve enjoyed it as much as this year.”

Things continued to go from strength to strength for the sprinter turned long jumper, when she extended her world record by three centimetres at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix, seeing off main rival, France’s Marie Amelie Le Fur in the process.

“I had some great head-to-heads with Marie Amelie Le Fur (former world record holder) this year and I didn’t jump below five metres once outdoors. I didn’t win by very much in Glasgow, so I didn’t feel like I had time to rest. It was a really good confidence booster to know I can perform when it matters.”  

Performing when it mattered was indeed what Reid delivered in Swansea, as she erased the memories of 2013 to clinch the European title, again from Le Fur, who finished just four centimetres behind. The Charnwood AC athlete highlights that the significant changes she’s made in the last year has contributed to her most successful year to date, but knows that it will take hard work to keep in front of her competition.

“I know she (Marie-Amelie Le Fur) wasn’t happy with how things worked out in Swansea. I will definitely keep that in the back of my mind. 5.47m isn’t good enough, I think female amputee jumpers are capable of getting six metres and I want to get there first.

“2014 has been an amazing year and it brought me a lot of personal satisfaction. I knew I could come back from it (last year) and that’s why I put all my cards on the table. I changed coaches, Brent (Lakatos, husband and four-time world gold medallist) came across to the UK live. You don’t do that when you’re not 100% into it and believe that things won’t work out.

“In the back of my mind I knew sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. I changed my coach and it was a year committing to doing my best but not knowing what was going to happen. But I got it back and think I can do even better. I can’t wait to see what it will look like next year stringing two back to back seasons healthy and three leading into Rio.”

It’s not just Reid who has been in fine form, with the GB & NI team winning a total of 42 medals in Swansea.

“When you have youngsters come by like 14 year old Maria Lyle setting world records by almost a second and a half, it’s great because you’ve got to keep improving. Even now with the programme as it is, it’s based on gold medals for funding purposes – it’s perfection. It adds a different dimension to how you’re preparing as there’s no room for error. To have the youngsters in your face you’re very aware of them, it gives you that extra intensity where 90% isn’t good enough.

“To bring that intensity and motivation every day is tough, but I think that’s why Great Britain is staying near the top of the medal table even though you’re up against China and Russia, who have that massive population base. We’re finding a way to compete with that base and that’s because of the excellence required from every individual.”

Six metres is quite clearly the ultimate goal for Reid, but after a strong year, the aim is to look forward and build on the progress she’s made in 2014.

“I think it’s always important to set a process target and a numerical target. My ultimate target is six metres and that is what I want to achieve before I retire. I think that’s what it will take to win a gold medal in Rio, possibly farther. Every time I have a review with Paula (Dunn), that’s what I put down and she laughs because to add an extra half metre in a season in tough. But I‘d be lying if I said I wanted to jump 5.60m because six metres is what motivates me, gets me up in the morning and encourages me in the weights room.

“Process target comes down to consistency. I’m someone who likes competing from the front, I want to be the one being chased. That gives me a lot of confidence and gives me the chance to relax and let things flow. Now that I’ve been able to do it this year, I’m looking forward to doing it in 2015. I just want raw aggression and competitive power on that track. I don’t need to worry about making up on a bad year from the previous year. Everyone says I’m so smiley, but there is that side to me and I really want to let her come back out."

You can follow Stef on Twitter via @RunJumpStefReid and through her website stefreid.com