Reece Prescod reveals how he became one of Team GB’s sprinting stars

The 100m athlete is one of Britain's best medal hopes at the European Championships – but his journey to stardom wasn't without its hurdles

UNSPECIFIED - JULY 26:  Reece Prescod of the British Athletics team poses for a portrait / trains during the British Athletics Team World Championships Preparation Camp on July 26, 2017. The IAAF World Championships in Athletics start on Friday 4th August 2017 in London  (Photo by Matt Lewis - British Athletics/British Athletics via Getty Images) TL

Reece Prescod set himself three targets for 2018.

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First, he wanted to establish himself as a genuine global competitor, to “start racing properly on the Diamond League circuit”.

Second, he wanted to run the 100m in a sub-10-second time for the first time in his short career. Third, he wanted to win the European title.

And how is he doing?

“So far, so good,” said Prescod, who has been tipped to beat Linford Christie’s national record of 9.87sec as his career progresses. Prescod, 22, was not even born when Christie ran his best time at the 1993 World Championships.

The 6ft 4in Londoner is Britain’s best 100 metres prospect in years. If he caused a stir by winning the GB Trials last year he did the same at a global level in May when he won the Shanghai Diamond League race, with world champion Justin Gatlin in his wake.

That race, in the rain, helped him to achieve his main aim for the year, and his next outing in Eugene, Oregon, gave him a further boost. In finishing third he ran 9.88 seconds, though the wind was too strong for it to count in the record books.

He also retained his British title. Asked which race gave him most satisfaction, Prescod said, “Probably the British trials, retaining my title. But then again maybe the first time when I won it and it was a bit of a surprise (2017). Those were my big two races, the surprise and the back-up.”

He says his “pivotal moment” came in 2016 when he thought he was going to be a 200m runner but, in only his second try at 100m, ran 10.06sec.

“I thought, ‘Wow! That’s a world class time,’ and from then on I was a 100m runner.”

His best chance of an international title comes in Berlin on Tuesday 7th August, in the European Championships.

Prescod was born in Walthamstow, studied in Loughton at “a very sporty school” and tried many other disciplines – football, basketball, swimming, golf and his dad’s favourite, tennis – but he knew from the age of 14 that sprinting was the one for him.

He kept at it, and earned a Nike sponsorship deal, despite a long run of injuries during his growth years that might have stymied a lesser athlete. He says the setbacks made him mentally stronger.

“People progress in different ways,” he said. “It’s not linear.

“I’ve run about 70 races, some of the others have run three times as many, but it just makes me think I have a lot more to give.”

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Watch the European Championships men’s 100m final on Tuesday 7th August at 8:50pm on BBC1


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