Jemma Reekie made the most of her debut for Great Britain and Northern Ireland by lowering her personal best as she claimed third place in the 1,500 metres on the opening night of the inaugural Athletics World Cup in London.
With points potentially meaning prizes in the newest competition on the international calendar, the 20-year-old Scot had the secondary target of earning the qualifying time she requires for a spot at next month’s European Championships in Berlin.
In a race which ignited off the final bend, she was two seconds short in 4:09.05 but will now fly to Paris to race on Tuesday before taking on training partner and mentor Laura Muir next Sunday at the Diamond League meeting in London on a mission to accelerate that little bit more. “I was trying to get the others to push the pace but it was pushed for me,” the European junior champion said.
“I just had to remind myself to keep concentrating on racing and not chasing the time. But being on the senior team was a really useful experience.”
The hosts are well-placed heading into Day 2 with team captain Lorraine Ugen claiming maximum points in the long jump and Holly Bradshaw doing likewise in the pole vault. And although the World Cup has failed to get the traction many hoped for in the face of football fever and Wimbledon, and due to several A-List absentees, the format is likely to prove durable enough to lead to further editions.
“It’s a different event,” said Bradshaw. “It takes me back to my roots when I used to compete for Blackburn Harriers when you used to collect points. I was really excited to get the win and the whole points.”
Neil Gourley aims to seize his opportunity to make his own case for inclusion for the Europeans when he gets his senior debut in the 1,500 metres this evening. The 23-year-old Scot seized the moral high ground by coming third at the recent British trials, just one spot adrift of automatic selection, and then earning the qualifying time in claiming victory in Lignano last Wednesday in the quickest time of his career to date.
However with Charlie Grice moving top of the UK rankings with his speedy effort in Rabat two days ago, Gourley – who plans to retain his American base despite graduating from Virginia Tech University – is counting on his bronze in Birmingham to hold sway. “I hope so,” he said.
“There’s no point having a trial if you’re not going to pay attention to the result.”
Scottish record holder Beth Dobbin also gets her senior British bow in tonight’s 200 metres with the top nation in the overall standings landing a lion’s share of the £1.4m prize pot up for grabs.
Meanwhile Kirsty Law, who landed silver at the UK Championships, is set for her major championship debut at the Europeans in the discus after landing the qualifying mark with a throw of 56.31m to come second at the Leiria Throws meeting in Portugal. Chris Bennett was second in the hammer on 73.32m with Mark Dry sixth.
Elsewhere, Erin Wallace will target gold at the European junior championships in Tampere in today’s 1,500m final.