World long jump champion is working towards the World Para Athletics European Championships in Berlin
Among the athletes at the Müller British Athletics Championships last weekend was World Para Athletics Championships long jump winner Stef Reid, one of a number of para athletes competing by special invitation.
She jumped 5.31m, a season’s best, but was not entirely satisfied, saying: “I didn’t jump that well. But technically I did a lot of things right which was pleasing.” When I suggested that 5.30m used to be a really good jump but now she is routinely well over 5.50m, the Aston Moore-coached athlete replied, “yes, I guess you’re right. I suppose your vantage point does change somewhat.”
The 33-year-old has declared her intention of continuing to compete until the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, while the major aim this year is success at the World Para Athletics European Championships in Berlin in August, an event at which she claimed gold in Swansea four years ago.
Reid is an athlete with many different interests and talents, who has done TV commentary on the Paralympics and para athletics events, modelling and is currently filming for Celebrity MasterChef.
She thought it was a great initiative to include herself and her fellow para athletes Richard Whitehead, Hollie Arnold and Zak Skinner in the British Championships. Reid, one of 18 athletes in the women’s long jump won by Lorraine Ugen’s 7.05m, said: “The atmosphere was amazing. I must admit that I probably had the loudest cheer squad ever. I had a really great time, everyone jumped very well.”
Reid pointed out that there is no British para athletics championship, simply because there are not enough elite para athletes to fill a programme of heats, explaining: “I am thankful and grateful to be here. To be allowed to compete is great, and to have the opportunity to get used to competing in big stadiums in front of big crowds is exciting and it’s great that they do what they can to include the para athletes.”
She added: “We feel welcomed in every aspect of the event – by the officials and the other girls are pleased to see me there too. Just as an example, I didn’t finish in the top eight but as a sign that they really wanted me to be there, they still gave me the full six jumps. That’s not something they have to do so it was incredibly gracious on their part.”
The only negative in the process is seeing great Paralympians like Reid coming in last. For example, Stef jumped 5.31m compared to the medallists’ 6.80m-plus. The uninformed spectator may not realise that 5.31m for a single leg amputee athlete is like a 6.70m for a non-disabled athlete.
“At the end of the competition I was signing autographs and a boy, who didn’t know who I was, asked: ‘did you come first or second?’” Reid said. “I didn’t know what to say but then I just said where I finished. I don’t need to qualify it but just to say ‘that is where I am at and I’m really OK with that.”