Jemma Reekie produced one of the finest performances by a British athlete in recent memory to display her Olympic credentials but in doing so reignited the debate over shoe technology.
The 21-year-old Scottish athlete blasted past her training partner Laura Muir on the final lap to win an invitation women’s 800m race at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena on Saturday in 1min 57.91sec, half a second clear of Muir.
Incredibly Reekie’s time shattered her personal best by nearly four seconds, set the fastest time indoors by a woman since 2006 and also moved her to 11th on the world all-time list.
Reekie, 21, who also beat Jenny Meadows’ British indoor record of 1:58.43 set in 2010, later admitted her shock on social media. “I don’t even know what happened,” she said. “Thank you for all the lovely messages. I need to process this.”
Her time was so fast that it would have won the 800m gold at the world championships in Doha, and it suggests Reekie, who took gold in the event at the European under-23 championships last year, can make an impact on the world stage.
However some on social media were sceptical about whether the prototype Nike spikes worn by Reekie and Muir have been a significant factor in their performances – and whether those shoes should be banned in light of World Athletics’ new rules on shoe technology.
Those rules limit the number of plates and the amount of foam that can be used in shoes worn by elite runners and also ban the use of prototypes in races unless they are in the shops by 30 April. However Andy Young, who coaches both Reekie and Muir, told the Guardian that the shoes were legal and would be in the shops shortly.
“There is no carbon plate in Laura or Jemma’s spikes – it’s just a plastic plate,” he said. “It has some of the foam that is in some of the new shoes. But it’s a normal looking spike and it is due to market. So Laura and Jemma’s spike will meet the new regulations in terms of plates and millimetres of foam.
“These spikes are not the carbon plated spikes referenced online in pics of patents,” he added.
A World Athletics spokesperson also confirmed that the shoes were not under suspicion: “If they have one plate (plus the plate that the spikes screw into) and the soles are not more than 30mm thick, then they meet the criteria.”