Paralympic long jump silver medallist is back on track and aiming for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games
A world record leap of 5.45m in Clermont, Florida last weekend has left Paralympic long jump silver medallist Stef Reid eagerly anticipating what else this season has in store.
The 29-year-old added 17cm to her personal best with her record jump, which is currently awaiting ratification from IPC Athletics, to better the previous world best for the T44 classification event by 2cm.
And although pleased with her performance, she believes there is much more to come.
“While I was super excited I wasn’t surprised,” she told AW. “This was never the end goal, I already knew I could jump that from training. It’s not like it was a perfect jump, there are still things to work on.”
The record, along with a personal best 13.80 for 100m clocked on the same day, will go some way to restoring her confidence though, following a difficult year for the Loughborough-based athlete. After winning Paralympic silver with a personal best 5.28m at London 2012, she wasn’t able to break 5.00m in 2013 and finished last at the IPC World Championships in Lyon.
“I made so many changes last year, it was a really difficult year,” she says. “It takes a huge knock to your confidence.”
She also says that the run-up to the 2012 Games had been hard for her, both on and off the track, and admits that after the Paralympics she considered hanging up her spikes.
“When 2012 finished, I had this one moment where I was sitting in my room in the September looking at my medal. I had to ask myself, ‘was all of this really worth it?’ It was a really difficult question.
“But I came out thinking, ‘yes, I love what I do, this is what I want to do’, but I didn’t want to do it the way I had done it the past three years, I needed to make a change.”
So she moved permanently to Loughborough with her husband, the Canadian wheelchair racer Brent Lakatos, and now trains alongside the likes of UK long jump record-holder Shara Proctor and Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor under sprints and jumps coach Rana Reider.
“I knew that joining Rana, everything was going to change,” says Reid, who made the move last May.
“It’s been tough and totally different to what I expected, but either you trust your coach, or you don’t.
“I think the other thing that has really helped me is being surrounded by the jumpers that I get to jump with now. Getting to watch athletes like Shara Proctor and Christian Taylor on a daily basis, I learn a lot.
“We’re not done, this isn’t our end point, but it’s really reaffirming to me that yes, all the hard work has come full circle,” she adds on her progress so far. “I’m really excited to see what the rest of the season has in store.”
With the world record under her belt, Reid now has her sights set on the 6.00m mark and is also targeting 6.20m – the qualifying standard to make the Scotland team for the able-bodied long jump event at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in July.
“The only way I was interested in staying in the sport was to have a goal that excited me,” she says. “The only thing that does is jumping 6.00m.
“And I still have my eye on Glasgow, the deadline for selection is June 8.
“Obviously 5.45m is still a long way off 6.20m but I still think that we’ve got room to grow.
“It’s a tight deadline but I’ve structured my early season around giving myself as many good opportunities as I can to get that,” adds Reid, who will next compete at an IPC Grand Prix meeting in Arizona from May 9-11, before one in Switzerland on May 16-18 and the Bedford Games on May 31. Looking further ahead, she also intends to compete at the IPC European Championships held in Swansea from August 18-23.
“We’ll see what happens,” she adds. “In my mind that (Glasgow) is what I’m going for. Decisions have been made around that, I’ll just see how close I can get and where it ends up.”