Sprinter says he’d run under neutral flag at IAAF World Champs after planned switch to Ireland has stalled in the hands of governing bodies
Leon Reid has made a last-minute appeal to the IAAF to race in the 200m at next month’s World Championships in London following a lengthy and frustrating struggle to switch allegiance from Great Britain to Ireland.
Reid wrote an impassioned letter to Seb Coe on social media on Thursday – just three days before the July 23 deadline for selection for the IAAF World Championships – asking why a further eight athletes from Russia have been given the green light to compete in London next month whereas his own 12-month long application to race for Ireland has so far failed.
Reid finished third in the 200m in this month’s British Team Trials in 20.38, which was one of the highest-quality finals of the weekend in Birmingham.
“At the start of the season I wasn’t hopeful of running in the World Championships,” he told AW, “but then I began to find my form when it mattered.”
Reid began a transfer of allegiance application to switch from Great Britain to Ireland in June 2016 but, more than a year later, the process shows no sign of coming to a conclusion.
This is partly because the IAAF froze all transfers of allegiance – although that was in February this year, seven months after he lodged his original application. In addition Reid says an accidental slip-up in communication between UK Athletics and Athletics Ireland has contributed to the delay as the three organisations – the IAAF, UKA and Athletics Ireland – dealt with his case.
“At this stage I would run under a neutral flag at the World Championships,” Reid said, referring to the Russian athletes who have been allowed to compete by the IAAF.
Ultimately, though, he wants to run for Ireland as his birth mother, who died last year, was from Belfast and his step-mother is from County Wexford in Ireland and he feels he has a strong affinity with the country, despite not having lived there and being based in Bath.
Reid’s background will also strike a chord with many. He grew up in care homes but went on to win English Schools 100m gold five years ago, on the eve of the London Olympics.
That same year – 2012 – he was unfortunate to miss out on selection for the IAAF World Junior Championships and now he is set to miss out on another, bigger global championships despite running a qualifying time of 20.38 while holding down three jobs.
This involves him working in a supplements store during the day, followed by shifts in a nightclub until 3am some nights.
In his open letter to Coe, he called on the IAAF president to remember his own problems with competing in major championships in the 1980s due to Olympic boycotts.
“I ask you to look at my case and view it from an athlete’s perspective,” he wrote. “All I want is the chance to compete.”
— Leon Reid. (@LeonReid_Woody) July 20, 2017
Time is running out for Reid, though, if he wants to run in London. “I do not believe I’ve reached my peak form this summer either,” he said. “Although I should at least have my selection confirmed for the Commonwealth Games next year as I now hold the Northern Ireland 200m record,” he added.