Stef Reid: London is exciting chance to make history

British long jumper Stef Reid will spearhead an assault on the six-metre barrier this summer as she targets becoming the first female amputee to achieve the milestone in London.

03/05/2017 16:15

Reid, a double Paralympic T44 long jump silver medallist, is eyeing up a first gold medal on the world stage, having won bronze medals in the long jump and 200m in Christchurch back in 2011.

Last time round, when the World Para Athletics Championships were held in Doha, Reid was sidelined by injury and forced to spectate as France’s Marie-Amelie Le Fur flew out to a world record as well as a wind-assisted 5.84m jump. The same championships saw Germany’s Markus Rehm jump a colossal 8.40m.

Reid’s pent up frustration, she says, acted to spur her on.

“In 2015 I had a prolapsed disc and had the wonderful experience of watching Marie-Amelie – while working for Channel 4 – absolutely smash the world record in the most perfect conditions you could imagine,” she says.

“I remember watching. Brent (Lakatos), my husband, called me and he said, ‘Stefanie, before you freak out, just remember the conditions were perfect.’

“That really, really fired me up. It made me believe that if she can improve by that much, so can I.”

Reid is at the vanguard of those pushing to accomplish new feats in the sport and hopes the iconic venue and atmosphere offered by her home World Para Athletics Championships will be the ideal opportunity for the Briton to make history.

She says: “This summer in particular all the girls want to be the first to get over six metres. That’s still the magical barrier for us. It’s an exciting time because it’s a chance to make history.

“We’re going to look back on the sport 20 years from now and this will be the period where everything changed at a crazy rate and you want to be a part of that. You want to be a part of representing your sport well, moving it forward and helping in the transition in the public mind.”

Reid adds: “I love having the home crowd and excitement. It’s such an honour to be in the stadium when there are thousands of people sharing your dream and your moment.

“It lifts me and I generally compete well under pressure. I don’t feel like there’s added pressure for me, just added excitement.”

As a veteran of three Paralympic Games, the 32-year-old witnessed the progression of para sport up to London 2012; a landmark she views as the rebirth of the Paralympic Movement.

“I absolutely can’t wait. There’s so much history for me with that track,” she says.

“I love having the home crowd and excitement. It’s such an honour to be in the stadium when there are thousands of people sharing your dream and your moment.

“It lifts me and I generally compete well under pressure. I don’t feel like there’s added pressure for me, just added excitement.”

Head-to-head

The path to gold in London has been cleared to some extent by the absence of reigning world and Paralympic champion Marie-Amelie Le Fur, who is set to sit out the championships this summer.

The French jumper set a world record of 5.83m in Rio, ahead of Reid who finished in the silver medal position while Dutch youngster Marlene van Gansewinkel picked up bronze on her Paralympic debut.

Reid will head back to London with experience and know-how on her side, but says the prospect of facing the up-and-coming Van Gansewinkel is one she relishes.

She says: “Marlene is hugely talented and unbelievably strong. You just don’t know what you’re going to get. But it’s an exciting challenge.

“I started my career quite late when I was around 22 and got into running. It was probably another four years before I was in a position to take it seriously. I remember first getting my prosthesis and the blades were new to the guy fitting it, so there was a lot of trial and error.

“We’ve now got all these young athletes in para sport coming through at a young age where they’ve had great coaching. It’s a really great challenge because it keeps us on our toes.”

Stef Reid will be hoping to compete on Saturday 15 July at the World Para Athletics Championships London 2017. Visit https://tickets.london2017athletics.com for tickets.