3rd March 2024


Jemma Reekie (coach: Jon Bigg; club: Kilbarchan) claimed her first major senior medal with silver in the women’s 800m and the British women’s 4x400m relay quartet won bronze in a new national record as Great Britain & Northern Ireland finished their home World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow with four medals in total.

Reekie has been in the form of her life to start 2024, running the second quickest time in the world this year in the women’s 800m and set herself up perfectly for a career best medal by qualifying quickest from the semi-finals on her home track. That medal would come in the form of silver as she battled behind Ethiopian Tsige Duguma to finish second in 2:02.72 minutes.

Meanwhile the British women’s 4x400m relay quartet of Laviai Nielsen (Tony Lester; Enfield & Haringey), Lina Nielsen (Tony Lester; Shaftesbury Barnet), Ama Pipi (Linford Christie; Enfield & Haringey) and Jessie Knight (Marina Armstrong; Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) combined brilliantly to win bronze in a new national record of 3:26.36.

The women’s 1500m final closed a successful first ever World Athletics Indoor Championships to be held in Glasgow with Georgia Bell (Trevor Painter; Belgrave) finishing a fine but agonising fourth while teammate Revee Walcott-Nolan (Thomas Dreißigacker; Luton) ran a great race herself for sixth.

Elsewhere UK champion Cindy Sember (Chris Johnson; Woodford Green Essex Ladies) was seventh in the women’s 60m hurdles final on the closing night while debutant at these Championships Adam Fogg (Cory Leslie; Coventry) battled to 14th in the men’s 1500m final.

Reekie’s silver in the women’s 800m and the bronze from the women’s 4x400m relay team pushed the overall medal tally for the British team to four at their home championships and fifth overall following Josh Kerr (Danny Mackey; Edinburgh) and Molly Caudery’s (Scott Simpson; Thames Valley) superb golden double in the men’s 3000m and women’s pole vault respectively 24 hours earlier.

Reekie said: “I knew those girls were going to throw something at me that they were confident with. They were just better than me. I stood on that track wanting nothing other than the win, but it is my first senior medal. I made some mistakes, but I will learn something from it.

“It is unpredictable but that is what is going to happen with all these great girls running so fast and more coming through. I thought I would come here and learn something, and I have. I really wanted to walk away with that gold medal in front of a home crowd, but it is my first senior medal, I have got to take it.”

In what was arguably the best atmosphere of the six sessions in Glasgow, Reekie’s performance in the women’s 800m final was the standout for the British team as she claimed the first major senior international medal of her career.

Favourably drawn on the outside in lane six, Reekie had an eye on how the field went through the first 100m and settled in at second after the cut in behind Duguma of Ethiopia.

The pace was slow through the first 400m with all six finalists bunched up. Reekie started edging more towards the front outright with two laps to go but the field remained tightly bunched all the way to the bell.

Reekie stalked Duguma as the bell rang out, but the Ethiopian pushed back on her wide advances. Duguma kicked with 100m to go and try as she might Reekie couldn’t do enough to surge past for gold ‒ however silver still marks a career best.

She added: “I was loving it [the atmosphere] and soaking it in and enjoying it, and that is the main thing. I have got one now [a senior medal] and I definitely want some Olympic ones. This will be a good stepping stone forwards.”

The GB & NI women’s 4x400m relay quartet, fresh from a national record in the heats, kicked off the run of five finals for the hosts, and involved one change with fourth-place finisher in the individual 400m Laviai Nielsen coming in for debutant Hannah Kelly (Les Hall; Bolton).

Drawn in lane six, British team captain Laviai Nielsen would lead the quartet out and was neck and neck with Jamaica at the cut in as the Dutch went off at the front and would not be caught.

Nielsen, in her fourth race of the three days of these Championships, handed over to her twin sister Lina Nielsen in third and she herself was straight onto the back of the Jamaican to keep the Brits on course for a medal.

The USA briefly caught up on that leg to make it a four-way fight for three medals with the second handover vitally important as everyone went wide towards the line. Lina Nielsen to Pipi was smooth and she settled them back in third again.

There was drama down the back straight of Pipi’s second lap as Jamaica’s Charokee Young unfortunately knocked into the Briton’s stride and dropped the baton, coming to an immediate halt.

Pipi kept her head to hand to Knight with the team in third behind the Dutch and the USA. With the top three nations clear and away, Knight ran a brilliant anchor leg to secure bronze and once again lower that national record by 0.04 seconds to 3:26.36.

Laviai Nielsen said: “The relay indoors can be so messy. I stepped up to do the first leg, sometimes you think I should do anchor, but I stepped up to try and get us in a good position for the break and I think I did that, on such tired legs.”

Lina Nielsen added: “I couldn’t tell you what happened on my leg, it is a blank. We all started to bunch up on the back straight and I just wanted to finish strong. It was quite a battle on that exchange to Ama but we were in a good position at that point.”

After her strong third leg, Pipi commented: “It was a really messy leg but I just stayed focussed on what I needed to do and tried to give it to Jessie in a good position. I think I did that.”

Anchor leg runner, Knight said: “I just wanted to stay as close as possible. Down the back straight I nearly went for the overtake but I tried not to get over excited because I didn’t want to burn up and lose the medal. The calibre of athletes [out there], I just wanted to do the team proud, and I didn’t want to lose that medal.”

The women’s 1500m final concluded these Championships, and Bell and Walcott-Nolan gave it their all in pursuit of medal winning end for the team.

Bell placed herself third early on as Ethiopian duo Freweyni Hailu and Diribe Welteji stormed ahead through the first 200m. Bell was shortly overtaken by the third Ethiopian Birke Haylom as a clear front three developed with the rest of the field behind them in a pack.

The lead three were reeled in with five laps to go as the pace slowed with Walcott-Nolan now on the shoulder of Bell chasing. The field was bunched with four laps to go as Bell moved up into third and Walcott-Nolan still riding with her.

There were plenty of moves made but the order was the same with three laps to go. One lap later American Emily Mackay surged to the front and strung out the field with the British pair reacting well.

Both dug deep in the closing stages, but the medals were out of reach. Bell picked off a place down the home straight to finish fourth in 4:03.47 while Walcott-Nolan was a further two positions behind in sixth in 4:04.60.

Bell said: “It is a bit disappointing to come so close to the medals and just miss out. I was also just off a PB too. I thought the race would at least be fast enough to be pulled around to an Olympic qualifying time, but we were about a second out.

“I have to just take a moment and reflect on how far I have come. It was a huge deal for me to even make this, so being disappointed with fourth shows that the goal posts keep changing for me. I am very happy with fourth on my first appearance in a GB vest.

“I feel like I can run faster and there is still a lot of room for improvement. I’m looking forward to taking some of the lessons learned here and applying them during the outdoor season. It was an amazing experience. I didn’t think I would ever be able to race on a track again, so to come here and perform at such a big home Championships is incredible and I am so happy I have had this experience.”

Walcott-Nolan added: “I think I spent most of the race in lane two or three, which is annoying. I don’t go too well on the bends because I am so tall, so I found that quite difficult. It is mixed feelings. I definitely had my sights set on a medal.

“I am happy with sixth. I feel like I made massive progress this year. The focus has always been outdoors. I didn’t target indoors to peak at all. Sixth in the world, I am fairly pleased.

Sember reached the women’s 60m hurdles final after an agonising wait to be confirmed as a non-automatic qualifier from the semi-finals and maintained her consistency to finish seventh in a historic race in 7.92.

The Briton, who equalled her personal best of 7.89 in the heats to kick off a busy day, ran a clean race to stop the clock at 7.92 in an historic race that saw Devynne Charlton of the Bahamas smash a new world record of 7.65 for gold.

After finishing her third race of the day, Sember commented: “There was more in the tank so I was a little frustrated that I didn’t run the time I can but I am grateful to make the final and it bodes well for the outdoor season.

“Indoors was good preparation for outdoors. It would have been nice to medal but that didn’t happen. The focus turns to outdoors now.”

Fogg’s World Indoors debut has been full of drama as he advanced to the men’s 1500m final after being favourably judged by the track referee to have been impeded in falling in the early stages of his heat.

He hit the front, among the lead three, in the early stages of the final before settling in the middle of the pack through more than halfway. He dropped back thereafter but kept battling all the way to finish in 14th in 3:43.81.


The Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal tally:

Gold (2): Josh Kerr – men’s 3000m, Molly Caudery – Women’s pole vault

Silver (1): Jemma Reekie – women’s 800m

Bronze (1): Women’s 4x400m relay