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Glasgow miss gives Reid added incentive as she sets her sights on Rio

Watching the Commonwealth Games for Stef Reid was a little like being the festival attendee with the wrong colour of wristband.

Stef Reid is focused on gaining the top step of the podium
Stef Reid is focused on gaining the top step of the podium

The two-time Paralympic long jump medallist spent four days glad-handing in a cluster of hospitality suites around Glasgow but without the access afforded to the real VIPs.

"It wasn't quite like competing," says the Scot, whose F44 disability category was not included in the programme and whose bid to qualify for the mainstream long jump fell short. "I didn't know how I was going to feel about it. I was happy for all these athletes who were there but I did have twinges of envy. I wanted to be out there."

That is no bad thing, she adds.

"When you stop feeling like that, it's time to retire. I love competing; it's so special when you have a crowd behind you like that, sharing your passion."

Instead, those competitive juices will be expended in Swansea this week at the IPC European Championships where the 29-year-old, who lost her right leg in a boating accident at the age of 16, will start as favourite to claim the title.

That status was re-affirmed in her Diamond League appearance at Hampden last month when she leapt to a new world record of 5.47 metres, snatching the leading mark away from her great French rival Marie-Amelle Le Fur.

Knowing it would be her lone appearance in the Games hub raised the stakes. The adrenalin was pumped to the max, the timing all too perfect.

"I knew she'd been jumping well. I didn't know what she'd jump. But I was so determined to lay down a marker, I was so ready. I did it in my first jump. I wasn't messing around. And to get the world record in front of a Scottish crowd made it so special."

It was, as ever, secured with the aid of her prosthesis and its trusty titanium blade which accompanies Reid wherever she roams. There is a small collection of adds-on, ones with heels and flats to accommodate every occasion, with a few in reserve.

One may soon be attached for a jaunt down the runway, not on a track but on one of her occasional modelling assignments which began in the wake of London 2012 and that have seen her grace the pages of Vogue. Her friend, Sophie de Oliveira Barata, who runs the Alternative Limb Project in London, is a designer who meshes art with artifice to provide amputees with a highly-customised look.

"Her work is stunning," Reid enthuses. "She's taken one of my old running legs and is turning it into something amazing. It will look like a chandelier. It will have glass in it. And we're looking to match it to a designer at London Fashion Week who might want to put me in a dress with it.

"It's hard to describe but it will have shards of glass that will reflect light. We want to keep the blade as well because it's a piece of work in its own right. I won't be running in it obviously but we want to keep the integrity of it."

The sideline will not be a burdensome distraction. "But I have a policy of saying yes to everything," she giggles. It will fit neatly into winter training at Loughborough and elsewhere with her husband, the Canadian wheelchair racer Brent Lakatos.

Athletics, for two more years at least, remains Reid's stylistic choice. We are now, she points out, closer to Rio 2016 than London 2012 and the stopwatch is already ticking. Strong foundations, for all those with hopes of travelling to Brazil, must be constructed to fortify their challenge.

Once the 2015 campaign gets under way, the scope to alter course and re-draft will be minimal at best.

"Which is why the Europeans are so important, to have that chance to practise in that environment," Reid says. "It's harder than a regular meet. You're in the same quarter as your team-mates and rivals.

"You see them every day. You have to cope with that over several days in a row. It's totally different. We don't have many championships to simulate that so I want to learn from this."

With a Paralympic bronze from Beijing and a silver from London, there is one logical ambition in two years' time. Victory would be the ultimate prize. In Rio, and also this week.

"I really do want to complete the set," Reid affirms. "But Swansea is huge for me now. I've never stood on the top of a podium and I want to know what that feels like. I loved London but it wasn't my anthem. It wasn't my moment."

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