Jemma celebrates in Italy – photo courtesy of British Athletics
Six Scottish athletes headed for Grosseto in Italy to represent British Athletics at the Euro Juniors.
And no fewer than five of them came home with precious baggage as Jemma Reekie and George Evans took individual medals and Alisha Rees, Jill Cherry and Holly McArthur contributed to relay successes for the GB women to collect bronze team medals.
Throw in a third Scottish 1500m success at this event in the past three championships; three individual event fourth places as well as gold for Reekie and bronze for Evans; plus a quite remarkable Scottish U20
Heptathlon Record-breaking performance by McArthur, and the collective #SALTogether performance really was quite superb in this context.
Holly’s seven event PBs are covered elsewhere but rivalling that for headline-grabbing has to be Reekie’s 1500m final win on Sunday afternoon.
It came along less than 23 hours after an agonising last lap fadeout in the 3000m final which saw the Kilbarchan AAC athlete pipped for the bronze on the line after a run of 9.24.81 – after pushing eventual gold medallist, Swiss athlete Delia Sclabas, all the way for almost all the race bar the final lap.
Jemma, coached by Andy Young and Laura Muir’s training partner, resolved to pick herself up and did so emphatically as she surged clear in the 1500m final with 300m left and then pressed home her advantage for a truly courageous and richly-deserved gold medal in 4.13.25.
‘I had so much motivation from yesterday not doing as well as I wanted and I just wanted to put it all out on the track today,’ said Jemma.
‘I knew if I pulled it out the bag like I’ve been doing in training I could win a medal. My legs were a bit sore from the 3k and I wasn’t really meant to go until 120m [to go] but it was speeding up and I just went for it and it worked out well.’
Listen to Jemma Reekie interview:
Evans, coached by Colin McCulloch, followed that up a couple of hours later with bronze in the discus final with a best of 59.05m (with his last throw).
George thus added another international medal to those won two years ago at the World Youths in Colombia and the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa.
‘I’m speechless,’ said George, who was men’s team captain in Italy.
‘It’s not been the best of seasons until now. I came out here and had the two best training sessions of my life and I’ve absolutely smashed it on the day – I’m delighted.
‘Two years ago at the World Youths I finished in the same place, but then bombed out last year, but I learnt a mountain from that, which I put to use this year.’
Listen to interview with George Evans:
There was a relay bronze for Alisha Rees, who is coached by Willy Russell, in the GB team in the 4 x 100m final on Sunday.
Alisha had finished fourth in the 200m final on the Saturday evening with a run of 23.54 – just a couple of hundredths outside her PB (23.52). Alisha, coached by Willy Russell, couldn’t quite get among the medals as her British team-mate, Maya Bruney, took the win.
McArthur and Cherry each ran in the heat for the British 4 x 400m women so landed bronze medals, although they didn’t feature in Sunday’s final.
Ben Greenwood was close to the medals, too, with a fourth place in the 800m final in 1.49.37 on Sunday.
Ben, coached by Cat Tavendale, made up ground on the home straight but couldn’t quite get into the top three – but nonetheless has put together three strong runs in three days against Europe’s best.
All at scottishathletics offer our congratulations to all six athletes in Grosseto and their coaches and clubs on very strong performances and offering huge encouragement to friends, team-mates and rivals at home that the development pathway – via the scottishathletics National Academy – is clear and effective.
Alisha Rees (second from left) celebrates 4 x 100m bronze with her GB team-mates